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CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM RESPONSE TO VICTIMS
First of all, we need to know who the victims are.  While crime victim-related research of 40 and 50 years ago examined the characteristics of victims, much of it approached the issue from the perspective of "shared responsibility," that is how crime victims were, in part, "responsible" for their victimization. In recent decades, the paradigm has shifted. The contemporary study of the characteristics of crime victims has tended to focus on identifying risk factors in order to better understand the phenomena, without attributing blame to the victims. Information about the risk for victimization has been used to develop crime prevention and enforcement strategies. Research indicates that there is a host of individual, situational, and community-level factors that increase risk of criminal victimization. Let's look at the individual factors. Individuals can be described in terms of their sociodemographic characteristics. These characteristics are encapsulated in the acronym S.A.U.C.E.R. Sociodemographic Characteristics

The risk of becoming a crime victim varies as a function of S.A.U.C.E.R: * Sex - Male or female
* Age - Young, middle aged, or elderly
* Urban - Urban or rural
* Class - Socioeconomic class
* Ethnicity - Racial characteristics
* Religion - Religious preference
Sex
With the exception of sexual assault and domestic violence, men have higher risk of assault than women. Lifetime risk of homicide is three to four times higher for men than women. Age
Adolescents have substantially higher rates of assault than young adults or older Americans. Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey indicate that 12-to-19 year olds are two to three times as likely as those over 20 to become victims of personal crime each year. Data from The National Women's Study indicate that 62% of all forcible rape cases occurred when the victim was under 18 years of age (Kilpatrick et al., 1992). Urban

Crime and victimization is mostly an urban problem. Urban areas have a dangerous amount of transience (strangers moving in and out of town), heterogeneity (mix of different people and places), and disorganization (dilapidation of housing and buildings). Class

Violence disproportionately affects those from lower socioeconomic classes. Family income is related to rates of violence and victimization, with lower income families at a higher risk than those from higher income brackets. * For example, in 1988, the risk of victimization was 2.5 times greater for families with the lowest incomes (under $7,500) compared to those with the highest ($50,000 and over). Women with household incomes less than $10,000 have odds 1.8 times greater than those with incomes of $10,000 or more of becoming a rape or aggravated assault victim. Poverty increases the risk of assault even after controlling for the effects of prior victimization and sensation seeking. Ethnicity

Racial and ethnic minorities have higher rates of assault than other Americans. African-Americans are six times more likely than white Americans to be homicide victims. Rates of violent assault are approximately twice as high for African- and Hispanic-Americans compared to White Americans. African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are significantly more likely than White Americans to have ever been violent victims of crime. Religion

Certain religious groups tend to be regularly persecuted, and over represented in hate crime statistics. Interpreting Sociodemographic Characteristics
There are many conflicting findings about demographic characteristics as risk factors due to different research methodologies being used. Many demographic variables are confounded. That is, they are so interrelated as to cause some difficulty in separating out their relative contributions. Demographic variables of age, gender, and racial status all tend to be confounded with income: young people tend to be poorer than older people;...
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