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NCVLI's Enhancing Legal Services for Victims with Disabilities Project

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $500,000)

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI), together with its programmatic partner Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) and evaluation partner RTI International (RTI), proposes this Enhancing Legal Services for Persons with Disabilities Victimized by Crime Project (Project) to increase the number of attorneys ready to provide competent rights assertion and enforcement legal advocacy to persons with disabilities victimized by crime.  By creating an online, interactive Disability & Victims’ Rights Attorney Toolkit, complimented by intensive, in-person, skill-based training and ongoing technical assistance, this Project will respond to a significant gap in the field – the lack of trauma-informed attorneys who are ready to serve persons with disabilities victimized by crime who seek to assert and secure enforcement of their rights.  This Project is critical because persons with disabilities victimized by crime face tremendous and unique barriers to accessing justice.  For these barriers to be dismantled, there must be a concerted effort to achieve equitable treatment and access to justice for persons with disabilities victimized by crime.  A key piece of this effort is availability of lawyers with understanding of disabilities, trauma, victims’ rights and disability law.  NCVLI and DRO have unique and complimentary expertise necessary to collaboratively construct the building blocks of change and RTI has the expertise to evaluate the intervention.  NCVLI will serve as the lead on the Project, subgranting 40% of Project funds to DRO which will leverage its culturally specific expertise to partner on all deliverables.  NCVLI will also subgrant to RTI for evaluation.

Ultimately the Project vision is an expanded body of attorneys competent to help persons with disabilities who have been victimized to assert and seek enforcement of their rights in criminal trial and appellate courts.  This Project, piloted in Oregon but readily scalable to other jurisdictions, has five objectives: (1) convene a steering committee to ensure lived experience guides the work; (2) enhance attorney knowledge of victims’ rights enforcement for persons with disabilities through an interactive, online Disability & Victims’ Rights Toolkit; (3) grow the rights enforcement skills of lawyers representing persons with disabilities who have been victimized by crime by creating and deploying intensive, in-person skill-based trainings; (4) pair trained attorneys who are willing to serve as pro or low bono counsel with persons with disabilities and provide ongoing legal technical assistance; and (5) draft an evaluation report with assessment of the implementation and effectiveness of objectives 1-4 to aid scalability.

Date Created: September 27, 2023