April 21, 2013, begins National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor crime victims and our nation’s progress in advancing their rights. This year’s theme—New Challenges. New Solutions—celebrates the progress for crime victims, despite many challenges.
Only 30 years ago, crime victims had no rights, access to crime victim compensation, or services to help rebuild their lives. They were often excluded from courtrooms, treated as an afterthought by the criminal justice system, and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencing.
Yet through decades of advocacy and hard work, we have come a long way. Today, all states have enacted crime victims’ rights laws and established crime victim compensation funds. More than 10,000 victim service agencies help victims throughout the nation.
But National Crime Victims’ Rights Week reminds us that many challenges remain. Crime Victims’ rights are not universal and are often not enforced. Only a small percentage of victims receive crime victim compensation, which is usually limited to victims of violent crime. A 2011 report called the Use of Victim Services Agencies by Victims of Serious Violent Crime showed that only 9 percent of violent crime victims received needed services in the 1993-2009 Advocates also face a host of new challenges as they strive to provide culturally competent services for increasingly diverse populations (e.g., seniors, teens, immigrant populations) and victims of newly prevalent crimes (e.g., trafficking and technology-related stalking and identity theft). As funding sources decrease, providers must target their services even more strategically.
“New Challenges. New Solutions. captures our mission in the 21st century,” said Joye E. Frost, Acting Director, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), U.S. Department of Justice. “As reflected in OVC’s major strategic planning initiative, Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services, we must craft a new vision for reaching all victims of crime. We can achieve this only by substantially broadening our thinking, strategically planning our future, and creatively expanding our For additional information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, please contact the Watonwan County Victim Witness Program at 507-375-3260 or email Melissa Cornelius at email@example.com. You can also check out the Office for Victims of Crime Web site, www.ovc.gov.