You never know when you might need to write a Victim Impact Statement. I wish this on no one. But if you do, here’s what I learned while preparing my statement for the Joseph DeAngelo sentencing hearing. I hope you find this helpful.
For some darn reason, Minnie Mouse decided to enter my body and speak during this podcast. It’s on speed and I can’t change it. So you can either save time and listen to me talk even faster (as if that was possible), or use your device to slow down the pace.
If you look at how the legal system works, Victim Impact Statements play an important role. They are intended to help the judge to understand three things about the victim, relative to the crime: the physical, emotional, and financial effects of the crime. From there, the judge may use that information to determine sentencing and financial restitution. We address our remarks to him, not the defendant.
This nuance, not being able to address DeAngelo, has made several of his victims really angry.
The reality is, while we won’t be censored, we do need to follow the rules of the court. Rage, sadly, is not part of the process. It’s interesting that it isn’t. If I think about it, it’s a by-product of the men who shaped our legal system. Feelings are eschewed – well, they are in court. Instead, feelings are shifted to punishment and that punishment has become more and more severe over the years.
Yes, I know old punishments included the stockade, physical abuse and more, but let’s focus on the our times where incarceration and the death penalty are where we are likely to see our rage turned into action. Maybe if we could get more of our feelings out directly, at the convict at sentencing, we might all feel a bit better. At least, it would allow convicts who deeply regret their mistakes to listen to the rage and understand the consequences of the actions on those they hurt.
But no, instead we are to be civilized, address the judge and mind our manners.
I give absolutely no fucks about DeAngelo.
He got away with it as far as I’m concerned. Justice isn’t possible in this case. How could we ever punish him for his crimes in a method commensurate with what he’s done. The death penalty would not have been enough. He will likely die at his own hands because he seems hell bent on staying in control. But that’s what it is.
The good news is there’s opportunity to change things with defendants who do regret their behavior and are seeking rehabilitation or just opportunity. That’s where your Victim Impact Statement can truly make a difference. It allows you to examine your humanity. Your resilience. Your commitment to making the world a kinder, gentler place.