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Victims' Rights Compliance Efforts: Experiences in Three States

NCJ Number
Date Published
72 pages
Based on a variety of data-collection techniques, including an analysis of relevant victims' rights laws and constitutional provisions and interviews with involved officials, this report analyzes the elements of the victims' rights compliance enforcement programs in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
All States have passed laws that guarantee the rights of crime victims to participate in the criminal justice process, and 29 States have amended their State constitutions to include protections for crime victims. Examples of these rights include making statements at sentencing and parole hearings, receiving notification of court proceedings and actions concerning case disposition, and applying for financial assistance or compensation from the State. Although these statutes and amendments mandate the provision of rights and services, they do not mandate procedures by which to implement them. In recent years, several States have developed programs that provide recourse for crime victims who believe that their rights have been violated. These programs differ from State to State in their structure and scope of activity. Crime victims in Colorado, for example, are able to file complaints with the State's Victims' Compensation and Assistance Coordinating Committee when they believe their rights have been denied. Wisconsin's Department of Justice, Office of Crime Victims' Services provides a similar function through the Victim Resource Center, which may mediate complaints brought by victims or act as a liaison between victims and State and local criminal justice agencies. Minnesota has appointed a crime victims' ombudsman to advocate for fairness and impartiality for victims seeking services from the State. The ombudsman's office retains the power to investigate victims' claims of unlawful or inappropriate action by criminal justice and victims' services providers. In addition to documenting the experiences and challenges faced by these three States' criminal justice systems in providing and enforcing victims' rights, this report identifies common themes that enhance and impede the compliance enforcement process and suggests general models and cautions for program replication. This is not a scientific evaluation of the victims' rights compliance enforcement programs in the three States and does not rank or make comparative judgments regarding their efficacy.

Date Published: January 1, 1998