The question of whether or not the state should be involved in giving financial compensation to crime victims is an interesting one. This sample essay explains how the state has a moral obligation to maintain the quality of life its citizens, but on the other, it begs the question of whether or not the taxpayer can bear the burden.
Crime victim compensation and restoration
Victims of crime, particularly violent crime, often suffer from psychological damage long after the incident. Most commonly, victims may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) similar to war veterans resulting in inability to work and in some cases inability to form typical life functions that were simple and routine before the crime. One of the most common discernable features of PTSD includes a negative and shortened outlook on life and the future. Without victim compensation for these damages, the justice system is not complete. By focusing on the criminal but overlooking the victim, justice would only be at half measure. We need to ensure proper systems are in place so that, when appropriate, victim compensation can be gauged by the damage done to the victim in the wake of the crime; only then will a true justice system be upheld.
In 1967 it was suggested by the President’s Commission that a system be set in place to compensate for losses suffered by crime victims (Doerner, 2012). Restitution, or payments made to the victim, was among the suggested techniques for retribution (Doerner, 2012). Victim compensation differs from restitution in that the funds paid to the victim come from the state. The first compensation legislation hit the United States in the 1960s, with California, New York, and Hawaii among the first to adopt such laws (Doerner, 2013).
A study on crime victims
A study by Maarten J. J. Kunst (2001) has shown a direct correlation between crime victims who suffer from PTSD and unemployment rates, which results in financial loss for victims in addition to their psychological, and perhaps even physical, suffering at the time of and perhaps long after the crime. The relationship between unemployment and PTSD is thought to come as a result of the victim’s avoidance symptoms, which causes them to view the future negatively or to simply apathetic to it as in a person experiencing severe clinical depression (Kunst, 2001).
Those who are against the idea of victim compensation believe that it allows for individuals to are work the system, so to speak, or exaggerate the severity of their suffering due to PTSD symptoms in order to receive greater monetary compensation and resist employment (Kunst, 2011). In other words, arguments hold that victim compensation allows for a manipulation of the law to avoid responsibility. Certainly there will be cases where this is true, unfortunately; however, it would be unjust to eliminate compensation for the majority of honest victims based on the fact that there might be some who themselves have criminal tendencies or are simply lazy and money hungry or angry and looking for revenge in the wrong way.
The majority of crime victims do seriously suffer from PTSD, making their lives and their jobs difficult to impossible. It is not just to deny these victims compensation for their losses and their legitimate suffering, which may extend to their family members and loved ones as well. Even if the system of victim compensation is taken advantage of by a few undeserving crime victims, it is more important for good of our citizens to have this system in place that it is that the state may lose funds because of the possibility of fraud. The fact is the most victims of violent crimes are seriously suffering and deserve to be compensated when they can no longer work and provide for themselves and their families.