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Services for Gun Victims

The roundtable participants were asked to consider how VOCA-funded programs, both compensation and direct services, are useful for gun violence victims. Two points made throughout the day were reiterated in this discussion:

  • Communities most at risk for gun violence need ongoing prevention work. Even though the Federal VOCA Victim Assistance Final Program Guidelines preclude the use of Crime Victims Fund moneys for “activities exclusively related to crime prevention,” direct services and compensation for gun victims could have a secondary preventive effect by minimizing the risk of retaliation and repeat victimization. Comprehensive programs that provide direct services and help break the cycle of violence in the community typically have more than one funding source. For example, a program could receive VOCA funding to support direct victim services and funding from another federal agency, such as DOJ’s OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to support prevention initiatives.

  • Gun violence disproportionately affects young African-American men. The health care, criminal justice, and media response to these victims may be less sympathetic than responses to other crime victims. Whatever the reason for the disparate treatment of these victims, we must not ignore them. Assumptions about the blameworthiness of young African-Americans and Hispanics shortchange a large segment of the population and perpetuate racial stereotyping.

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Working With Victims of Gun Violence
July 2001
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