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Homicide, Bereavement, and the Criminal Justice System, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2001
21 pages
This is an Executive Summary of a study that assesses the influence of the criminal justice system on the bereavement of people who have lost a loved one to homicide.
The study uses qualitative and quantitative data to assess the effect of the criminal justice system on the bereavement of people who have lost a loved one to murder. Data came from in-depth interviews with 32 bereaved whose loved ones were murdered between 1994 and 1998 in Center County (pseudonym), Texas, in-depth interviews with 19 Center County criminal justice professionals, and participant observations of murder cases in the Center County criminal justice system. The study uses a series of bivariate regression models to estimate the effect of sociodemographic characteristics on the criminal justice index score, sociodemographic characteristics on depression, criminal justice index score on depression, and case status on depression. Bereaveds use disbelief and spontaneous action to cope with the news of murder. Overall, bereaved experience the most frustration with the law enforcement aspect of the criminal justice system. Their main frustrations with the district attorney's office concern delay in time from indictment to trial and personnel turnover. Professionals control information to check the stability of bereaved, create stability in bereaved, and protect the integrity of the investigation. The study recommends that professionals be aware of the power of sympathy in their interactions with bereaveds and the role of sympathy in reducing the number of adversarial interactions. Bibliography

Date Published: May 1, 2001