Rights of Victims

Since the early 1970s, attention to the needs and rights of victims has prompted enactment of legislation, changes in public policy, and development of victim services throughout the United States. The emergence of the victims' rights movement led to passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 1984, which provided funds for victim assistance programs, victim compensation, and discretionary funding for research on victim needs. In 1988, Congress amended the Victims of Crime Act and created the Office for Victims of Crime to provide leadership and funding on behalf of victims.

As of October 2003, every State has a crime compensation program and has passed some form of victims' rights legislation, and two-thirds of the States have passed constitutional amendments that guarantee victims' rights (Newmark, 2004). In 2004, victims of violence received benefits totaling $426 million (National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, 2006).

Crime victims experience an array of physical, psychological, emotional, and financial consequences (Newmark, 2004). Physical injury; feelings of fear, anger, grief, and shame; concern for personal safety; and financial burdens resulting from counseling or medical expenses and lost income are some of the issues victims face. Victims seeking help may feel ignored or even revictimized by the criminal justice process, which may seem to be more concerned with the rights of the accused than with the rights and needs of the victim (Victim Services, 1998).

Works Cited

National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards. Compensation to Victims Continues to Increase Exit Notice. Accessed March 14, 2007.

Newmark, L.C. Crime Victims' Needs and VOCA-Funded Services: Findings and Recommendations From Two National Studies. Final report submitted to the National Institute of Justice, March 2004, NCJ 214263.

Victim Services. From Pain to Power: Crime Victims Take Action. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, September 1998, NCJ 166604.

Date Created: January 17, 2008