You know the old saying, justice delayed is justice denied. Yeah well, this saying is most often only applied to those accused and before the courts. Poor buggers have to wait interminably for a Judicial Officer to determine their financial imposition or their next place of abode. And it is true that the longer this process takes the longer the pain of anticipation for those before the court.
This pain of anticipation is also acutely affecting the victims. Let’s say that in the case of an assault, the person assaulted is denied, through the passage of time, a timely expression of regret from society that they were not protected. This expression of regret is the sentence the perpetrator cops.
But there is another set of victims, the tertiary victims of a crime. The first being, in our example, the person assaulted, the secondary being the family of the primary victim and any witnesses to the assault. The tertiary victims are the families of the perpetrator, who in many cases, are unaware that a crime has been committed. This is usually in the case of child molesters.
If justice is meted out quickly, the primary victim gets satisfaction and sometimes compensation; the secondary victims get a sense of closure and in some cases also receive compensation. But the tertiary victims get nothing. Oh, actually they get blamed, ostracised, suffer financial hardship and often in the case of children, psychological crisis. These families often disintegrate.
We have, in Australia, many programs to rehabilitate and restore offenders, programs and victim compensation schemes for those affected directly and negatively by a crime. But apart from some non-government organisations, we have precious little to support and help those families of perpetrators.
A true example was of a family of a child molester in this city of ours, whose family was unaware of his activities. It was a single income family. When the police knocked and dragged him away, the family was made aware of the crimes and went into immediate crisis. They had no income, the children were afraid to go to school as some of the victims were from that school, the wife was in shock and had no family here to turn to other than a parent. Fortunately, she was a strong woman and managed to get some way through it. How I don’t know.
We should all stop and think awhile about the hidden victims of crime.