Results: Video and Nonvideo Participants
Sixty-six participants were assigned to watch the video, and 52 were assigned to the nonvideo condition. Seventy-five percent of participants (n=50) in the video condition indicated that they were able to pay attention to the video either “most of the time” or “all of the time.” Ninety-one percent reported that the information was clear and understandable. Fully 95 percent (n=63) noted that they experienced little to no anxiety watching the video. Thus, participants could watch the video, thought it useful, and were not upset by it.
Crime Victims' Rights and Compensation
When individuals were asked to list some of the rights that the criminal justice system affords crime victims, there were no significant differences between the responses of individuals who watched the video and those who did not. They had similar responses in terms of crime victim compensation funding, victim impact statements, victim notification rights, the right to be present during bond hearings, and the right to comment on plea bargains. However, when asked specifically whether they had heard of crime victim compensation, 25 percent of those who watched the video responded “yes,” compared to 9.6 percent of those who did not. When asked “How does CV comp work?” 25 percent of video respondents volunteered that it would pay medical bills related to the crime, as opposed to 10 percent of nonvideo participants. About 3 percent of both groups noted that it would pay for counseling, and nearly twice as many video participants as nonvideo participants reported that it would pay a percentage of lost wages (7.4 percent vs. 3.8 percent).
Knowledge of the Effects of Interpersonal Violence
Participants in the video condition were asked to list negative emotions that sometimes affect victims of violent crime (the video mentions several). Depression was identified as a common outcome by 17 percent of the participants; 11 percent reported that panic and avoidance were often experienced; 15 percent noted that general anxiety is a frequent occurrence; and 5 percent noted that increased substance use was possible. When asked what a victim could do to effectively deal with these problems (also covered by the video), 14 percent spontaneously reported that victims could seek counseling, 14 percent indicated that therapeutic exposure exercises could be helpful, and 30 percent reported that keeping active would help. The video participants seemed to have learned about negative emotional reactions to crime, but more important, they were aware of strategies they could use to reduce these negative emotions.
Knowledge of the Criminal Justice Process
Participants were also quizzed about the criminal justice process. In response to the question “Who decides whether there is enough evidence in a case to formally charge the perpetrator?” 13.4 percent of video participants, compared to 7.7 percent of nonvideo participants, answered correctly. Equal proportions of both groups (about 45 percent) were able to define an indictment as formal legal charges brought against an alleged assailant handed down in court. Similarly, approximately equal proportions of both groups were able to define a grand jury (about 70 percent), a bond hearing (about 89 percent), and a victim impact statement (about 29 percent).
The video addresses the relevance of participating in the criminal justice process for victims of violent crime. The original hypothesis was that such coverage would affect the viewer’s willingness to participate in court and investigative activities. This appears to be the case; fully 95 percent of those who watched the video indicated a willingness to participate in the criminal justice process, and 67 percent reported that the video increased their willingness to participate.