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Victim Outreach: An Ethical and Strategic Tool for the Defense

By Stephanie Frogge and Michelle Cruz

Defense outreach to victims and survivors of crime is a relatively new initiative within the criminal justice system and, at first glance, challenges the familiar adversarial process and the rules that govern it. However, a closer examination of the principles of ethical outreach suggests strategic value for both the victim survivor and the defendant charged with the crime.

Victims of crime who choose to engage with the criminal justice process understandably anticipate that the process and its outcome will meet their needs for accountability, information, validation, justice, restitution, and cessation of fear. A significant challenge for system-based victim service providers is explaining the limitations of the criminal justice process without discouraging victim survivors from participating. For individuals unfamiliar with the criminal justice process, as many victim survivors are, it is very hard to learn that not only are they not a party to the process, but successful

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