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Hidden Victims, Essay Example

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Words: 1855

Essay
  1.  Identify two different cases that you encountered in reading Hidden Victims that provide clear examples of active participants in the system (dance of social order diagram) who are responding to families of the accused/convicted/condemned in ways that are contradictory to the consensus reality that the “average” citizen (such as yourself) believes reflects “our system of justice.”

The desire to serve justice is the main course by which courts operate. For instance, when certain criminal cases are handled, the main goal is to gather information to find a suspect, try the individual accused of the victim and specifically convict him to be able to serve the punishment that he deserves to ‘suffer’ as payment for what he did. In a world of compromise, there are instances when the court has to decide on whether to give more importance to the welfare of the victims or give attention to the concerns of the accused. In the reading on Hidden Victims, what is chosen by the justice system is the normative process by which they are expected to function, to serve justice to the victims of those who chose to take the wrong path.

Hence, as a result, those who are accused of a particular misdeed are often times readily mandated for a sin that they have not been proven to have done just yet. Furthermore, when the lawyers on the side of the victims find a relative source of strong evidence putting the accused in the position of conviction, the accused individuals are set to suffer punishments whether or not they did the case being placed upon their heads. In a way, this is how accused individuals who had no sins against the law are considered as hidden victims of the system of justice operating in the society today. The desire to put away the bad ones has caused the justice system to be blinded by the belief that they have actually been able to set aside the conditions of a just trial simply to be able to say that they were able to serve justice to the real victims of the crime.

  1. Hidden Victims raises many uncomfortable questions, among them, what about the wrongfully accused? What happens to the wrongfully accused and their families from Dr. Sharp’s reporting of her research? It seems that the system does not concern itself with them. This means one who is wrongfully accused who is convicted and receives a death penalty provides us evidence of innocent people on death row.

Innocence is very different from the idea of ignorance. When one is ignorant, he simply does not know the law, when one is innocent, he may know the law, follows it and thus specifically stays away from going against it. However, there are times when the innocent ones are the ones being tried. This is especially true when the instance of weak evidence or wrong evidence and witness statements are utilized to put a particular person on a stand to be accused of a particular crime he may not even know of. This fact provides an idea that even when one is innocent, it does not serve him any protection from the possibility of being wrongfully accused in court. In fact, at times, innocence partnered with ignorance serves the attorneys and other players of the court the right cards to play around that particular individual’s being and manipulate matters just so to put him behind bars.

As mentioned in the reading, a high percentage of individuals set to die in the death row are innocent. Some of them already dead who were not given enough justice. Although they did show that they are innocent during the length of time that they were kept behind bars, noting their actions is not a primary concern of the law. Relatively, due to the increased population of inmates in incarceration cells, it could be noted that observing individuals and their behavior one by one is not the focus of the institution. The truth is that the ones a person is convicted, he is not treated innocent anymore, instead, he is treated like the others who have actually done their part in defying the limitations and rules of the law. Basing from this case, it seems then that when a person is convicted, it is not necessary to fight for what is right anymore’ proving one’s innocence while he is behind bars is often close to impossible.

  1. Drawing on the ways in which Prof. Sharp categorized her interview subjects in terms of their responses to the situation of having a loved one facing a death penalty sentence (i.e., joiners, fighters, withdrawers) discuss how these correlate with our discussion in lectures regarding possible responses to cognitive dissonance. In your discussion comment on the intensity of cognitive dissonance you think was driving these subjects and consider how they were able still to carry on their lives under these pressures (in terms of coping with cognitive dissonance).

Acceptance and equilibrium, these are two elements that allowed the loved ones of the convicted ones to remain in their senses even beyond the fact that the ones they loved are already facing death at the hand of the law. Often times, wrongfully accused individuals are put in courts and tried repeatedly because of their incapacity to pay for a representative which the other party could do. This is the dirty and greedy side of justice that cannot be simply denied. The fact is that the more the system operates on larger cases, the more that there is a possibility of money being involved in the process of hearing and the release of the conviction against the accused individuals.

Families and friends of the wrongfully accused then become the victims of the situations. The supposed frustrations and the hurtful feelings they experience, once thrived upon, could be a source of conflict that could push them to take revenge. However, being that their nature is not on the criminal side, most of these individuals tend to resort to self-control. Hoping that matters could still change or on the other hand just accepting matters as they come seem to be the most effective approaches they use to keep themselves calm even in the midst of such a trying situation in their lives. The effect of cognitive dissonance upon these individuals was often respectively responded with altering considerations of finding good out of what is bad. Seeing matters in a more optimistic matter then becomes a valuable resolution to the matter.

  1. Thinking about the exposure of families of the accused to what amounts to public bullying, as reported by Dr. Sharp, construct what would be the “necessary” definition of the situation that would facilitate this sort of community response. Be sure to include the most relevant objects, and how these would necessarily be formed in the community’s consensus reality (for collective bullying to be okay).

In cases where the situation of the accused is publicized because of the controversial status of the case, the families and friends of the accused usually receive the blows of public mockery. Media presentations of the accused and the trials that he has been subjected to often bring about a sense of rising public opinion. Notably, such courses of development impose on the public to react accordingly. It could not be denied that a larger percentage in the human community trust what they see in the media, they then resort to immediate judgments. This results to hard ways of facing life on the part of the family  members and friends of the accused. Believing that they are on the side of the ‘truth’, these social bullies often inflict more pain in the love ones of the accused more than what is necessary.

  1. At several points in Prof. Sharp’s discussion we run across clear evidence that opposing the death penalty in a pending death penalty case is unacceptable. Anti-death penalty citizens are not allowed on the juries in the first place, families and groups who oppose the death penalty are prevented in speaking in sentencing hearings on behalf of a lesser sentence than death, even when those voices belong to the victim’s family and speak directly for the victim. Using the relevant ideas of social processes theory how can this be explained? What social processes are exerting their influences, creating the conditions for these policy choices to be made? How is it that this is an acceptable policy in sentencing policies and practices?

Choosing the jury for a particular hearing is important. Examining the nature of the case first before choosing the jury to respond to the case hearings is then considered essential to the results of the trials as well. It could be observed then that when the possibility of imposing death penalty as a resulting conviction related to the case is expected, finding a jury that would not oppose the said conviction is necessary. This would make it easier for the judgment to be passed on with ease without any possible debates coming from the part of the ones representing social response. Controlling the situation has been the common source of strength for many case trials responding to assumptions of possible convictions relating to death penalty.

  1. Thinking back on all that you have thought about in reading Hidden Victims and in class discussions/readings, thinking about the differences in the way families of victims and families of suspects are treated by the community in publicized criminal cases, what actions, if any, do you think should be taken to change the situation? Explain the definition of the situation you are using to reach this opinion. Specify the most relevant objects and how you are forming these, and how your own reference group perspective ‘evaluates’ your opinion and why.

The controversy of particular cases have driven the courts to publicize several trials of accused individuals [especially if the case concerns public safety]. Notably though, it could be understood that such course of decision on the part of the court should still be limited especially that it means public humiliation on the part of the accused and their families as well as their friends. It should be remembered that they are accused and not yet convicted. Involving too much opinion from the public would only confuse the process of the trials and cause particular jeopardizing elements that could make the final decisions rather questionable in many aspects. This could specifically help in the avoidance of the occurrence of cognitive dissonance on the part of the accused and their loved once hence reducing the possibility of increased chaos in the community coming from the side of the ones who are victimized by the unfair treatment that innocently accused individuals receive from these factions of the law.

References:

Harmon-Jones, E., & J. Mills. (Eds.) (1999). Cognitive Dissonance: Progress on a Pivotal Theory in Social Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Matin, I., and Metin, S. (June 2011). The Advances in the History of Cognitive Dissonance Theory. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 1 No. 6.

Friedman, L. (1993). Crime and Punishment in American History. Basic Books. New York, NY.

Fuller, R. (2005). Criminal Justice: Mainstream and Crosscurrents. Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ.

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