According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, guilty pleas in 1996 accounted for 91 percent of felony convictions in state courts.1 This figure has been consistent since 1988. Thus, unless crime victims are afforded the opportunity to be involved during plea negotiations and related proceedings, most of them will be effectively denied any chance for meaningful participation in the criminal justice process.
The enactment of victims rights legislation in recent years has allowed victims of crime to take a more active role in criminal proceedings. By sharing the impact the crime has had on their lives and voicing their views on sentencing, victims can play an essential role in the appropriate administration of justice. Victims in many states, however, have not been able to fully exercise the rights provided them by law.