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Drew Gray : Why Are Victims Rarely Included In The History Of Crime ?

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  • Drew Gray : Why Are Victims Rarely Included In The History Of Crime ?

    I have been researching and teaching the history of crime and punishment for well over a decade now and the field now covers considerable ground. There are excellent studies of the criminal justiceā€¦

    What about the victims, why are they so rarely included in the history of crime?

    In the article, Drew states :

    We have ended up knowing a lot more about the criminals than we have the victims. Even when it comes to the most famous unsolved murder case in history – the Whitechapel (or Jack the Ripper) murders of 1888 – there is precious little on the five (or more) women who were killed, at least by comparison to the endless commentary on who the assassin might have been. At least Hallie Rubenhold is working on this as I write, so that may be addressed fairly soon.

    I wonder what Ms. Rubenhold could add that we don't know......

  • #2
    A perception of social justice maybe? Symbolism over substance probably.
    Best Wishes,
    Cris Malone
    "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."


    • #3
      The article linked here covers studies and research. In the study of crime and crime victims we can almost apply the opening line of "Anna Karenina": Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

      Criminals are criminals and they are all alike in that they commit crime. Victims are victims in their own ways. It is harder to study crime victims unless there is a pattern of crime such as we find with JtR and some other serial killers.

      Looking at victim individuality, even in my lifetime, female victims especially were considered partially guilty for becoming victims. SHE was in the wrong place, was alone, dressed wrong, etc. It was very uncomfortable for victims to come forward, to have their stories told. Going back farther in history, a decent woman did not get her name in the paper.

      We know quite a bit about JtR's victims because society could use them for a morality tale.

      If we think back on historic victims, the press and society seem in many cases to have judged them as well as the criminal perpetrators. There is the old religious idea that if someone lives a blameless life bad things won't happen and if bad things do happen then there must be hidden sin.

      There is also basic law, that lawbreakers transgress against society as a whole. Since kings and centralized governments were invented, we have not in general practiced restorative justice where the victim is compensated and considered directly. This takes the victim out of the equation.

      A lot of these things have changed recently. Victims speak out and lobby for legislative changes. Crime reporting gives voice to victims. It is no longer politically correct to blame women for becoming victims. Victim impact is considered in sentencing. In some cases civil damages have compensated victims, for instance the law suits against O. J. Simpson.
      The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript