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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74732 Find in a Library
Title: Special Services to Victims
Corporate Author: National District Atorneys Assoc
United States of America
Date Published: Unknown
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: National District Atorneys Assoc
Alexandria, VA 22314
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Victim services that the district attorney can provide are described, including property return, restitution programs, and assistance to victims who are trial witnesses.
Abstract: The district attorney can easily and inexpensively return stolen property to the victim and preserve an evidentiary record for trial use by recording identifying characteristics and photographing items. Examples of formal and informal property release procedures used by law enforcement agencies are provided. Because restitution is not feasible in all situations, the district attorney's office should develop specific guidelines. Only damages that are easy to establish, such as medical bills or property damage, should be sought, and restitution should be made only with the victim's consent. Factors that affect a workable restitution agreement are outlined, including the nature of the crime, the extent of damages, and the offender's ability to pay. Restitution should be in a lump sum payment, whenever possible and be monitored by the court. A district attorney can help victims by creating a referral program which identifies and catalogs sources in the community that should be obtained through personal contacts. Prosecutors can assist victim witnesses by publishing a pamphlet which explains the witness's role in the judicial process and providing a special reception room in the courthouse for witnesses. Other services which encourage victim cooperation in court are transportation arrangements, special parking areas, briefings before and after trials, escort services, and intervention with employers to allow witnesses to attend court without losing pay or vacation time. Witness intimidation within the courthouse can be minimized by a secure reception area and escort services. Harassment outside the court is difficult to combat, but the district attorney must be prepared to protect a witness from physical harm and halt intimidation through warnings to the defense counsel. The district attorney can emphasize the growing problem of witness intimidation at professional meetings and request that defendants routinely be enjoined from harassing State witnesses as a condition of pretrial release. Statutes which govern reimbursement of witnesses' expenses should be revised to simplify paying procedures and increase fees to reflect today's costs. A victim witness program should be prepared to offer some child care, possibly through a contract with a nearby day care center. Sample letters are included.
Index Term(s): District attorneys; Prosecutor-victim interaction; Restitution programs; Victim-witness intimidation; Witness assistance
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