Al Jazeera: Can a new victims advocacy movement break cycles of violence?

While traditional victims’ advocates have aligned themselves with law enforcement, maintaining that justice should come in the form of harsh punishment of offenders, this new movement has more in common with criminal justice reformers seeking alternatives to tough sentencing policies. Grounded in research that establishes clear links between early exposure to violence and self-destructive patterns, the new victims’ advocates want to spend less on prisons and more on crime prevention, trauma care and other forms of counseling. That shift, they say, can save today’s victim from becoming tomorrow’s criminal and prisoner — and can rescue communities of color from the twin ravages of high crime and rates of imprisonment. At the movement’s core is the belief that criminals and their most frequent victims belong to the same community, one that has long been told what brand of criminal justice is good for it. Now members of this community are announcing that they want a say in those policies.

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