Victim’s Rights Policy
All the components of the criminal justice have the same goal in mind: preventing and fighting crime. Preventing and fighting crime also includes providing services for the victims of the crimes. Although the main focus on the criminal justice system is to arrest, prosecute and rehabilitate the criminal, many forget to focus on the victim. The National Organization for Victims Assistance was found in 1975 and is the oldest national group providing assistance to victims of crime and crisis. The Law enforcement community needs to ensure the safety of the victim before, during, and after a conviction. Many times the victims of crimes are forgotten or left out of the notification process when the criminal has been apprehended, prosecutes, sentenced, or released from the system. By examining the history and effectiveness of victim rights legislation and programs, the goals of victim’s rights will become clearer.
History of Victims Rights
The concept of victims’ rights is relatively new idea. Linda R S v. Richard D (1972) was the case that opened the door for victims’ rights. The Supreme Court ruled in Linda V. Richard that “a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or nonprosecution of another” (Lewis, 2010, para 5). From that case, the idea of victims’ rights would explode and the next 10 years would be one of immense expansion for victims.
Before the national government would recognize victims need for legal rights, small organizations would start to make minor changes in their respective areas. In 1972, Summit County in Ohio created the Victim Assistance Program. Seeing that the county offered 35 free services for the offenders and nothing for victims infuriated local officials and was the basis behind the organization (Victim, 2010). Eventually the national government realized the need for victim rights legation and in 1982; The President gave a report starting the President’s task force on victims of crime issues. A flurry of victim rights legislations began flooding a persistent Congress. In 1982 Congress would pass the Victim and Witness Protection Act, followed by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 1984. VOCA was impressive because it created a fund to help states establish victim rights programs in their areas. The most recent legislation that would pass through Congress in 2004 was the Crime Victims Rights Act.
From small states to national legislation, the concept of victims’ rights has become a growing concern. The organization VALOR (Victim Assistance Legal Organization) was hard at work for 16 years before gaining national recognition. In 1995, The United States Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime awarded VALOR a grant to create the National Victim Assistance Academy. This academy would train individuals to deal with the emotional and legal needs of victims (VALOR, 2005). Programs such as those in Summit County, was the base for the legislation changes...