If you attend the American Society of Criminology’s annual meetings, last held in Washington, DC in November, you may remember being asked to sign a petition to begin a new Division of Victimology. ASC currently has six divisions – or membership subgroups – that focus on corrections and sentencing, critical criminology, experimental criminology, international criminology, people of color and crime, and women and crime.
Academic criminologists are often criticized by victim service providers and allied professionals for an over-emphasis on offenders. What about victims? Even criminal cases involve a symbolic dismissal of the victim when the state brings its case against an offender. Legal cases are The People vs., not The Victim vs. The Offender.
But it doesn’t mean that victimology doesn’t matter.
Bob Jerin and Bonnie Fisher recently spearheaded the drive to create the new Division of Victimology, and CrimeDime asked for an interview to learn more about the effort.
CD: The American Society of Criminology (ASC) was established in 1941. Why has it taken 71 years to establish a Division of Victimology?
Probably because it has taken hundreds of years for society and particularly individuals involved in the criminal justice/criminology fields to recognize how important crime victims and services for them are when studying crime. The Division recognizes the important contributions that the study of victimization and victims have made (and will make) to the criminal justice/criminology field by supporting the unique approach the discipline of Victimology offers and its integrated role within criminal justice/criminology. Thousands of academics and practitioners worldwide study and work in the Victimology field, and this new Division recognizes this fact. The Division is needed to collectively represent their growing victim-focused interests.
CD: How did you go about establishing the new Division?
Following the model of the recently developed Victimology Section for the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, we recognized the large number of ASC members who would be interested in belonging to a Division within the Society. We contacted ASC’s Executive Director, Chris Eskridge, to find out the procedures to create a new division. We gathered the necessary signatures presented the petition to the Executive Board. We enlisted like-minded members to secure more than the needed number of signatures from the current membership. We presented the petition to the Board at their mid-year meeting in April. Board members unanimously approved our petition, so we officially were granted permission to move forward with the formation of the Division.
CD: What are the Division’s goals?
The mission of the Division of Victimology is to promote the professional growth and development of its members through scholarship, pedagogy, and practices associated with Victimology. The Division of Victimology strives to ensure that its members will 1) contribute to the evolution of the Victimology discipline by supporting and disseminating cutting edge research, 2) develop and share pedagogical resources, 3) support professional enhancement workshops and activities, 4) embrace the development of evidence-informed programs and services, 5) advance victims’ rights, and 6) encourage the advancement of the intersection of scholarship and practices.
CD: What is your future vision for the Division?
Bright! The field of Victimology continues to expand and involve numerous individuals schooled in a variety of disciplines, such as sociology, public health, psychology, social work, gerontology, gender studies, medicine, and nursing. One day we hope that Victimology is a required component in every criminal justice/criminology curriculum, taught in the secondary schools, that scholars and practitioners will see the vast opportunities to study and work in the field, and that everyone from students to politicians will recognize the need to understand the plight of victims.
CD: How can people get involved?
The Division is open to any current member of the American Society of Criminology. Once we are up and running we will have a Facebook page for the Division and a web page. Please like us and we look forward to all input.
The Division will have its first general and business meetings at the 2012 ASC annual meeting in November (14 – 17th) held in Chicago at the Palmer House. Please check the ASC website and look at the conference program for the date/time/place of these meetings; the preliminary program is usually available in July. We are looking forward to having productive first meetings, and of course, hearing from those who want to run for an office or serve on a committee.
CD: Thanks, Bonnie and Bob. We look forward to hearing more about the Division’s progress.
Robert Jerin, PhD is Professor of Criminal Justice and Victimology at Endicott College and has received the John P. J. Dussich Award from the American Society of Victimology, and the Gerhard Mueller Innovator Award from the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences. His most recent book is The Victims of Crime, with Dr. Laura Moriarty. Other books include Current Issues in Victimology Research and Victims of Crime. He is the former Chairperson of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Victimology Section, life member of the American and World Society of Victimology and the National Organization for Victim Assistance. He works directly with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as a victim advocate within the court system.
Bonnie S. Fisher, PhD is a Professor in the School of Justice at the University of Cincinnati. She also is a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) on campus and has collaborated with the local YWCA. She was awarded the 2012 George Rieveschl Awardee for Creative and/or Scholarly Works. She has coedited and coauthored a number of books, including the Encyclopedia of Victimology and Crime Prevention, The Dark Side of the Ivory Tower: Campus Crime as a Social Problem, Unsafe in the Ivory Tower: The Sexual Victimization of College Women (which won the 2011 Outstanding Book Award by the ACJS), and the 3rd edition of Campus Crime: Legal, Social and Policy Perspectives is in progress. Her articles and chapters span the field of victimology.
- Defining American and European Criminology (crimedime.com)
- Crime Victims’ Rights Week (crimedime.com)
- Most UK Victims and Witnesses Were Satisfied With the CJS and Would Report Again (crimedime.com)
- $2.3 Billion in the Crime Victims Fund in 2010 (crimedime.com)
- When Prosecutors Threaten and Intimidate Victims (crimedime.com)