Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $750,000)
The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI), together with partner Pro Bono Net (PBN), propose this Legal Advice for Victims Project (Project) to increase access to no cost legal advice and self-help resources for victims of crime to help them understand, assert, and seek enforcement of their rights. The Project will develop and launch the first pro bono virtual legal advice and resources platform specifically focused on the needs of victims of hate and bias crimes, including online gender-based abuse, harassment and violence. The Project will be a regional effort launched in Oregon, focusing on state and federal law relevant to crimes within the Ninth Circuit of the federal judiciary. The technology will be designed to scale first to other states within the Ninth Circuit, and ultimately to any state and Federal Circuit in the country.
This Project is critical because more than thirty state constitutional amendments, the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and myriad state and tribal legal provisions provide victims rights in our criminal justice systems. Yet years after these rights became law violations continue; when rights are promised but not afforded victims endure re-victimization. Trauma from this re-victimization is exacerbated by a steady increase in hate crimes in recent years, particularly online gender-based crimes; low prosecution rates for these crimes; and a lack of affordable, culturally responsive, and accessible legal information and lawyers for these victims. Affording victims the power to choose how, when, and to what extent to participate correlates with less re-victimization and more positive outcomes for victims and the system. This Project will create avenues to support these positive outcomes by ensuring victims know they have rights and understand and can activate those rights.
To achieve this goal, the Project has the following objectives: (1) develop, pilot, and launch the online pro bono advice platform; (2) develop and launch volunteer attorney recruitment, training, and support; (3) develop the Know Your Rights resource library for the platform; (4) develop and launch an outreach campaign to victims about the Project’s free legal advice and support; (5) monitor, assess and refine the technology, and the pro bono and victim outreach strategies throughout the Project; and (6) based on Project results, develop a plan for expansion of the platform to other jurisdictions after the Project period.