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NCJ Number: 249530 Find in a Library
Title: Fundamentals Of Victims' Rights: A Brief History of Crime Victims' Rights in the United States
Corporate Author: National Crime Victim Law Institute
United States of America
Date Published: November 2011
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: National Crime Victim Law Institute
Portland, OR 97204
Office for Victims of Crime
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 2008-DD-BX-K001
Sale Source: National Crime Victim Law Institute
310 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 540
Portland, OR 97204
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Historical Overview; Instructional Material; Report (Grant Sponsored)
Format: Document; Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reviews the origin and evolution of crime victims’ rights in the United States.
Abstract: Under common law, crime victims played a central role in the criminal justice process. Private prosecution, in which crime victims initiate and control criminal prosecutions, dates back to the Middle Ages. This right of victim prosecution is based on the view that crime is a harm inflicted primarily on the victim. As with English common law, the right of private prosecution became part of early American jurisprudence, as crime victims controlled the investigation and prosecution of crimes against them. This was the norm in the United States through the 19th century. By the early 20th century, however, the American justice system had evolved into a public prosecution system, leaving victims with no formal legal status other than as crime reporters and witnesses to the state. At one point, the U.S. Supreme Court observed in dicta that “in American jurisprudence at least, a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or nonprosecution of another.” Beginning in the late 1970s, however, a strong victims’ rights movement emerged that sparked change in State constitutions, statutes, and rules, as well as Federal statutes and rules. These statutes define explicit legal status to crime victims. Although the scope of victims’ rights varies by jurisdiction, all focus on re-integrating crime victims into the criminal and juvenile justice systems, so that victims are involved in holding offenders accountable for the harms and costs victims have suffered due to the crime. 17 notes
Main Term(s): Victims rights
Index Term(s): OVC grant-related documents; Victim prosecution of offender; Victim services
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