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New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century- Prosecution

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1998
15 pages
After discussing the role of the prosecutor in ensuring victims' rights and in delivering victim services, this paper offers 14 recommendations for improving such services by prosecutors.
This paper is a reprint of chapter 3 from "New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century." In 1982 the Final Report of the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime examined specific areas in which prosecutors could improve their response to crime victims. The Task Force urged prosecutors to inform victims of the status of their cases; bring to the court's attention victims' views on bail decisions, continuances, plea bargains, dismissals, sentencing, and restitution; establish procedures for victims to make their views known; charge and prosecute defendants who intimidate witnesses or victims; discourage case continuances; and give special consideration to both adult and child victims of sexual assault and establish victim-witness assistance programs. This paper also discusses innovations beyond the Task Force report, special prosecution units that serve victims, innovative programs for victims with special needs, "community prosecution," and the role of prosecutors in crime prevention. Recommendations address victim notification of important stages of case processing, the establishment of victim-witness assistance units, victim-witness protection from intimidation, prosecutorial support for effective crime-prevention strategies, and the establishment of multidisciplinary efforts to respond to crime. Other recommendations pertain to advocation for victims' rights; consultation with victims on plea negotiations; rapid processing of particularly sensitive cases; the use of technology to enhance the implementation of victims' rights; and the adoption of vertical prosecution for domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse cases. Also, prosecutors should work closely with victim service providers and establish procedures to ensure the prompt return of victims' property, absent the need for it as evidence in court. 38 notes

Date Published: August 1, 1998