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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. The authors confirm that all data underlying the findings are fully available without restriction. Data are available as Supporting Information Data S1 with this paper.

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Department of Justice. Written by Dr. Points of view in this document are those of the author s and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U. Department of Justice, this project seeks to document the rich history of the victims' rights and assistance field since its inception in The project's four goals are to:.

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The Office for Victims of Crime is committed to enhancing the Nation's capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime. OVC works with national, international, state, military, and tribal victim assistance and criminal justice agencies, as well as other professional organizations, to promote fundamental rights and comprehensive services for crime victims.

The crime victims' movement is an outgrowth of the rising social consciousness of the s that unleashed the energies of the idealistic, something generation of the s. Its continued strength is derived not just from the social forces through which it began, but also from the leadership of extraordinary individuals, some of whom have personally survived tragedy, and others who have brought extraordinary compassion and insight as witnesses to such tragedy.

In retrospect, one can say that the victims' movement in the United States involved the confluence of five independent activities:. Early victimology theory posited that victim attitudes and conduct are among the causes of criminal behavior. The importation of victimology to the United States was due largely to the work of the scholar Stephen Schafer, whose book The Victim and His Criminal: A Study in Functional Responsibility became mandatory reading for anyone interested in the study of crime victims and their behaviors.

He first spoke about victimology in his class on criminological theory.

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It was the first time that he ever gave a lecture in this country and we became friends after that. The interest in victimology correlated with increasing concern about crime in America in the late s. It is perhaps no coincidence that the precursor to Dr. Schafer's book was a study he conducted for the U. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The idea that the state should provide financial reimbursement to victims of crime for their losses was initially propounded by English penal reformer Margery Fry in the s.

It was first implemented in New Zealand in and Great Britain passed a similar law shortly thereafter. Early compensation programs were welfare programs providing help to victims in need.

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This was reflected in Justice A. Bythere were 28 state compensation programs. By then, most had rejected the welfare precept in favor of a justice orientation in which victims were seen as deserving of compensation whether or not they were in need.

Compensation programs also promoted involvement by victims in the criminal justice system since they required victims to report crimes to the police and to cooperate with the prosecution. Administrators of the early programs were not always passionate advocates of victim issues. According to Kelly Brodie, the former Director of victim compensation programs in Iowa and California:.

Later, compensation administrators often became articulate advocates of society's responsibilities to victims.

Acknowledgements

There is little doubt that the women's movement was central to the development of a victims' movement. Denise Snyder, Director of the Washington, D. This issue was one that society didn't want to think about, didn't want to hear about. The individual survivors felt incredible isolation. Long-time victim advocate Janice Rench of Massachusetts describes the influences that propelled her into the victims' movement:. That was my passion, having been a victim of a sexual assault crime.

The new feminists immediately saw the need to provide special care to victims of rape and domestic violence. It is ificant that of the first three victim assistance programs in the United States all began inand two were rape crisis centers in Washington, D. There were several ificant contributions that these programs brought to the victims' movement:. One individual who helped transform this problem into a reformed system was Donald E. He Lonely older women Bard California read the then-new research by Frank Cannavale 7 that documented this stunning finding: the largest cause of prosecution failure was the loss of once-cooperative witnesses who simply stopped helping a justice system that was indifferent to their most basic needs.

This was the catalyst for funding three demonstration projects in to provide better notification and support to victims and witnesses. Most began making referrals to social service and victim compensation programs. Some offered employer and creditor intercession, as well as support during court appearances. Lauderdale Police Department and then the Indianapolis Police Department helped open this new sector of the movement. Others followed suit.

Many of the police-based programs were inspired by the work of two men.

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In his clinical work with victims that began inDr. Symonds developed three insights:. These views were published in a of journals and were spread around the victim assistance community. He laid the basis for presenting victim-focused training into many law enforcement academies and the FBI National Academy. Finally, the victims' movement was given a jolt of energy from crime victims and survivors. The victims' movement surfaced the neglected issue of criminal violence against women, yet it was rape survivors and battered women who most commonly founded programs and shelters for similar victims.

An additional force began to be felt in the late s. I found, to my surprise, that nice people apparently just don't get killed.

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Families and Friends of Missing Persons was organized in in Washington state by survivors of homicide victims. The initial purpose was simply to provide support to others whose loved ones were missing or murdered. It later evolved into an advocacy group as well. Parents Of Murdered Children was founded by Charlotte and Robert Hullinger in in the aftermath of the murder of their daughter by her ex-boyfriend. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was co-founded in by Candy Lightner when her daughter was killed by a repeat offender drunk driver, and by Cindi Lamb, whose infant daughter was rendered a quadriplegic by a repeat offender drunk driver.

InProtect the Innocent in Indiana was energized when Betty Jane Spencer ed after she was attacked in her home and her four boys were killed. She and others did not shy away from the news media. She was the poster child for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, because even though she couldn't move, she moved so many people.

Many of these were support groups, but most were also advocacy groups whose power was undeniable.

Introductory materials

Edith Surgan, whose daughter was killed in New York City inmoved to New Mexico and founded the New Mexico Crime Victim Assistance Organization that was the driving force behind establishing victim compensation legislation in that state.

She told many times of traveling day after day from her home in Albuquerque to Santa Fe to fight for that legislation. She also told of how the Majority Leader of the Senate hid from her until she confronted him and asked why he was hiding. He said simply that he could not deal with such a horrible issue. Bob Preston, whose daughter Wendy was murdered in Florida, along with Greg Novak, whose sister Beverly Ann Novak was murdered in Chicago by a man who had just been released, unsupervised, from a State Hospital, co-founded Justice for Victims, which successfully lobbied for one of the first state constitutional amendments for victims' rights that was passed in Florida in The experience of John W.

Gillis, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, following the murder of his daughter Louarna in Los Angeles incaptured the work of all these groups:.

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So I attended their meetings. They started asking me questions about law enforcement [he was then a Los Angeles police lieutenant] and why cases were handled certain ways. This was really helpful to me because then I found out I was providing help and information to others who were really hurting so much.

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So it was a two-way street. From there a group of us decided that we wanted to start our own organization, so we started Justice for Homicide Victims. These five forces worked together at first in informal coalitions, but the formation of the National Organization for Victim Assistance NOVA in helped to consolidate the purposes and goals of the victims' movement.

The organization grew out of ideas developed at the first national conference on victim assistance, sponsored by LEAA, in Ft. Lauderdale in NOVA's initial contributions were to promote networking and to continue national conferences beginning in to provide training opportunities for those working with victims.

Funding to the field in the late s through LEAA gave communities opportunities to replicate the initial programs and begin to translate knowledge and practice into educational materials. By the end of the s, many states had at least a few victim assistance programs, and 10 states had networks of programs.

There grew a common understanding of the basic elements of service: crisis intervention, counseling, support during criminal justice proceedings, compensation and restitution. LEAA continued to promote victim assistance through its state block grants and established the first National Victim Resource Center in InNOVA incorporated the growing demand for victims to have legitimate access to the justice system into a new policy platform on victims' rights and the initiation of a National Campaign for Victim Rights, which had as its core, a National Victims' Rights Week, endorsed and implemented in by President Ronald W.

The s were marked by rapid progress as well as by turbulence, caused in ificant part by the waning of federal financial support. As national priorities shifted, stable funding became elusive when Congress de-funded LEAA at the end of the decade, and programs often entered into internecine warfare over the limited resources that were available. Controversy also arose among programs that were driven by grassroots energy and those that were based in criminal justice institutions.

Many felt there was an inherent conflict between the goals of a prosecutor or law enforcement agency and the interests of crime victims. Some sought legal changes in the system, while others felt change could take place through the adjustment of policies and procedures. Tensions within the movement led to the emergence of new national organizations: the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault was formed at NOVA's national conference to provide leadership for rape crisis programs.

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The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence was also founded in to provide an advocacy network for shelters. The loss of ificant LEAA funding in served as a potent reminder of how tenuous the movement's gains in the s had been.

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Though an untold of programs were abolished, the movement itself survived, thanks largely to the impact of the victim activist groups and the new public awareness they engendered. Their influence helped the victims' movement keep going and make progress on three fronts: public policy, program implementation, and public awareness.

State public officials, urged on by victim advocates, realized that state action was necessary to ensure the institutionalization of victim assistance. California again was a leader as it became the first state to establish state funding for victim assistance in Wisconsin took action by becoming the first state to pass a Victims' Bill of Rights the same year. There's got to be funding built in from the State.

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We are especially indebted to Katherine Field Caldwell whose gift in memory of her mother, Sara Bard Field, made the final production of the oral hisory and the illustrations possible.
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