After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement

By Paul E. Rock | Go to book overview

10
Conclusion

I'll say that madness, a certain kind of madness, often goes hand in hand with poetry. It would be very difficult for predominantly rational people to be poets, and perhaps it is just as difficult for poets to be rational. Yet reason gets the upper hand, and it is reason, the mainstay of justice, that must govern the world.1

For decades penal reformers and policy-makers in England and Wales were haunted by the spectre of angry victims of violence, the victim-vigilantes who would storm out like latterday sansculottes to wreak a terrible revenge2 and undo all their liberal reforms. 'The road from victims' rights to the chamber of death is short', wrote Joe Rogaly portentously: 'If you doubt it, ask Timothy McVeigh.'3 Criminal injuries compensation was devised in part in the 1950s and 1960s to appease those victims, who, like Orestes, were thought to be bent on a 'blood-hunt, [a] persecution, [driven by] a fiend of vengeance . . .' Yet no victim had ever effectively expressed a public wish for monetary restitution.4 The reparative justice movement of the 1970s and 1980s was motivated in part by a desire to 'demystify' and assuage the angry victim's apprehensions about an offender who was thought to have grown over-large in a fearful imagination. But victims manifested no obvious wish for reparation and mediation. It was almost as if, in their own fearfulness, reformers had constructed a new monster, a twentieth-century harpy, who could spoil all their work.

____________________
1
P. Neruda, Memoirs ( London, 1978), 41.
2
See for example, C. H. Rolph, Wild Justice, New Statesman, 18 Jan 1958.
3
"Keep the rod of justice in the right hands", Financial Times, 7,8 June 1997. ( McVeigh was the man convicted of the bombing of a federal government building in Oklahoma City. The penalty for his crime was determined by the jury in his trial in Colorado). Rogaly predicted that the introduction of victims' rights and victim impact statements would bring about the demise of justice.
4
See my Helping Victims of Crime ( Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990), ch 2.

-321-

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After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editors' Introduction vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xxvii
  • Contents xxix
  • Figures xxxi
  • Tables xxxii
  • Abbreviations xxxiii
  • Dramatis Personae xxxv
  • 1 - Homicide in England and Wales 1
  • 2 - Bereavement after Homicide 28
  • 3 - Bereavement as a Career 57
  • 4 - The Moral Economy of the Homicide Survivor 91
  • 5 - Beginnings: From The Compassionate Friends to Parents of Murdered Children 136
  • 6 - Victim Support and Parents of Murdered Children 168
  • 7 - The Campaigning Survivors: Justice for Victims, Activism, and the Mass Media 206
  • 8 - The Politics of Justice for Victims 241
  • 9 - The Evolution of SAMM 278
  • 10 - Conclusion 321
  • Index 334
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