Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $750,000)
In cases of violent crime, case activity can continue long after a conviction and often for the duration of the offender’s confinement or supervision within the community. Rarely, however, are victims provided with details about the full scope and length of post-conviction case activity, leaving them unprepared for the variety of potentially re-traumatizing case activity post-conviction, including early offender release. Moreover, prosecution agencies across the country are petitioning courts to overturn convictions, reduce sentences, and release offenders through conviction and sentence review units as part of nationwide efforts to address inequities in sentencing and reduce mass incarceration, among other criminal justice reform goals. While these goals and efforts are important to addressing systemic unfairness and inequities, crime victims in these cases are often forgotten when it comes to honoring their rights and affording services, creating a dire need to address the dearth of post-conviction victim services and ensure that victims do not continue to be overlooked post-conviction. The rapid increase in conviction and sentence review units create a dire need to address the dearth of post-conviction victim services and ensure that victims do not continue to be overlooked.
The project will focus on victims whose case convictions or sentences are being reconsidered post-conviction by specialized conviction or sentencing review units, and the attorneys, and allied professionals charged with service delivery in these cases. Healing Justice, with assistance from project partners, the National Crime Victim Law Institute and the National Organization of Victim Assistance, aims to address this underserved community of victims by creating a comprehensive foundation for post-conviction victim service interventions. Lessons learned, resources created, and recommendations developed will be applicable to post-conviction victim services more broadly. This will be achieved by: (1) providing overarching recommendations, training, and models for post-conviction service delivery around the country, and; (2) implementing and piloting tailored training and technical assistance in select jurisdictions in which active conviction and sentence review is occurring. Short- and long-term outcomes include centering the voices of crime victims and survivors, developing tools, resources, training, and partnerships to expand post-conviction victim services, and building upon previously funded work by the Office for Victims of Crime and National Institute of Corrections.