Dr. Carina Gallo, assistant professor of criminology at HNU, and Professor Kerstin Svensson, professor of social work at Lund University, have received a $350,000 research grant from the Crime Victim Fund managed by the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority.
The grant will support their research, which began in May 2013 and will take place over three years, into the rise and evolution of the Swedish Association for Victim Support. The association is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to assisting victims of crime through advice, information, and support services. Established in 1988, it is Sweden’s largest victim assistance organization. Although there has been a rise in victim assistance programs in Sweden and elsewhere, there is little research on the origins and development of these programs.
The research project relates to Gallo’s scholarly interests on how countries develop criminal policies and practices, including victim assistance programs. Gallo is the co-author of “Swedish Victim Support: Self-Image, Target Groups, and Independence” (Victimology: Crime Victims in Theory and Method, 2012), published in Swedish. She has authored and co-authored numerous journal articles and book chapters exploring crime victims and social services.
Gallo argues that the idea popularized in the United States that victims want revenge through harsher criminal punishments has been emphasized for political purposes. “Many people would say that the victim movement in the U.S. hasn’t been very successful, and the criticism has been that it hasn’t addressed victims’ needs,” she said.
The preliminary phase of Gallo and Svensson’s research project, which has already been completed, was to study the Swedish Association for Victim Support’s annual reports from 1989 to 2008. “The study showed that, in contrast to victim movements in other countries, such as the United States, the association has followed a path that emphasizes support and assistance to victims, rather than tougher policies on crime,” Gallo said. “The association has consistently emphasized rehabilitation of offenders over punishment. In fact, punishment and offenders are almost completely absent in the annual reports.”
Gallo is presenting the results of their preliminary research at two conferences this fall—the European Society of Criminology in Budapest, Hungary, and the American Society of Criminology in Atlanta, Georgia. The next phase of Gallo and Svensson’s research is to analyze the member magazine of the Swedish Association for Victim Support and board meeting minutes to evaluate the goals and mission of the organization.
Gallo says that her scholarly findings inform every aspect of her teaching, and she also involves students in her research. “This is an important aspect of every course that I teach in criminology,” she said.