National Crime Victim's Rights Week - Resource Guide


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National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) is a time-honored tradition that has been observed for 16 years by crime victims and those who serve them in the United States. The 1997 NCVRW Resource Guide, published by the Victims' Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) and the Office for Victims of Crime, is designed to help victim service providers plan and implement public awareness activities to commemorate this special week.

The theme for 1997 NCVRW is "Let Victims' Rights Ring Across America." The theme reflects the need to publicize victims' rights and needs in communities large and small, and ensure that the voice of the victim is heard. It is reflected in all the Resource Guide components and, similar to most of the contents of this Guide, can be utilized throughout the year in public education and community outreach efforts.

The contents of the NCVRW Resource Guide include: public education and community awareness materials; information about resources available free from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, both in paper and electronic formats; resources for the news media to help promote NCVRW; statistical overviews that address 14 topics relevant to crime and victimization; a list of 17 toll-free information and referral numbers for victim assistance; and camera-ready artwork for posters, bookmarks, buttons, cover/title page for NCVRW material, and letterhead.

Victim advocates and allied professionals should take a few moments to review these tips for using the NCVRW Resource Guide. They provide useful ideas for utilizing these valuable resources to ensure the best implementation of 1997 National Crime Victims' Rights Week. The tips are listed in the order in which the contents appear in the Guide.


Ten creative ideas that tie into this year's theme -- "Let Victims' Rights Ring Across America" -- are offered to stimulate your thinking.


Each year, hundreds of state and local officials and agencies issue proclamations or resolutions that officially proclaim the week of April 13 - 19 to be "(state/local) Crime Victims' Rights Week." The sample proclamation can be offered to such officials and entities as a foundation upon which to draft an official proclamation that is specific to each jurisdiction's needs. Data from the statistical overviews included in the Guide can be useful for refining the sample proclamation. Victim advocates should request multiple copies of any proclamations issued that can be framed for the offices of the many organizations that co-sponsor 1997 NCVRW activities.


One of the best ways to promote victims' rights and services is through the broadcasting of public service announcements (PSAs). The five sample PSAs can be utilized for either radio or television stations. Each PSA should be personalized to include contact information for local victim services, along with any relevant data that accurately reflect crime and victimization in the area in which the PSAs are broadcast.

Victim advocates should contact local radio and television stations at least six weeks prior to NCVRW and ask to speak to the public service director. S/he can provide guidelines about whether the station accepts PSAs and the preferred format. While some stations simply accept PSA scripts that are read by on-air "personalities," others ask that the scripts be read by a representative from the organization that submits them. Be sure to understand and follow any guidelines that radio and television stations provide!


Once victim service providers have completed their plans to commemorate NCVRW, it is helpful to send a general press release to local print and broadcast media that highlights key activities they will sponsor. The sample press release, which includes a national perspective and a quotation from the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, can be easily personalized to state and local jurisdictions. The sample NCVRW letterhead included in the camera-ready artwork of the Resource Guide can be utilized for the press release. Usually, local libraries have a reference book listing print and broadcast media nationwide that can help create a current media mailing list.


The opinion/editorial page(s) are the most frequently read section of newspapers. The sample opinion/editorial column should be personalized and expanded to reflect information pertinent to the community in which it will be published, such as current crime statistics, personal victims' vignettes, and information about local victim services. The column can also be submitted to local radio and/or television stations as an actuality, which is a 60-second statement of opinion that is usually read on air by the author. Victim service providers should consider submitting the opinion/editorial column or radio/television actuality from a local NCVRW Planning Committee or coalition. Remember to use the sample NCVRW letterhead for printing the opinion/editorial column or broadcast actuality!


The sample speech reflects the 1997 NCVRW theme and offers a broad national perspective about the current status of victims' rights and services. It should be personalized to reflect local issues and concerns, as well as to educate the public about victims' rights and services available in the community in which the speech is delivered. Potential audiences for NCVRW speeches include: civic organizations; allied professional groups; schools, colleges and universities (both classes, general assemblies, and student/faculty organizations); criminal justice and victims' rights conferences; and churches. For more information about federally-funded victim service programs, you may wish to visit the Office for Victims of Crime homepage on the Internet at http://usdoj.ojp/gov/ovc.


This Resource Guide contains a variety of quotations that address the NCVRW theme and other salient issues relevant to victims' rights and victim justice. The notable quotables can be utilized in speeches, brochures, and all public outreach publications and activities sponsored during NCVRW and throughout the year.


The Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendments section of the Guide contains a brief history of efforts to enact federal and state crime victims' rights constitutional amendments and a summary of states that have amended their constitutions to guarantee an array of rights for victims.



Victim service providers have the opportunity to receive valuable information about victims' rights and services, criminal justice, crime prevention and other important issues on an ongoing basis from the OVC Resource Center and NCJRS, in paper, videotape, and electronic formats. Specific details about how to access information are contained in this section, including a sampling of crime victim-related Internet sites. Advocates can build an impressive library with the most current research and literature available relevant to crime and victimization by registering with NCJRS. For a registration form, call 1-800-627-6872.



The National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) within the U.S. Department of Justice publishes many documents that contain information about research, evaluation, training and technical assistance relevant to crime victims and criminal justice. Information including the titles and order numbers for 41 excellent resources (31 publications, 8 training curricula, and 2 videotapes) available free from the OVC Resource Center are included in the Resource Guide. Instructions for ordering these publications, by contacting the NCJRS toll-free 800 number, are also included.


A certificate of appreciation is included in this year's Resource Guide, honoring victim service providers and others for their contributions to victims. The certificate can be reproduced on attractive card stock, with the recipient's name written in calligraphy. Spaces are provided for the date of the award and the signature of the Director of the organization giving the award.

You may also wish to modify the certificate to honor volunteers who assist crime victims and advocates, tying the event into National Volunteer Recognition Month, which is also commemorated in April each year.


One of the most popular components of the Resource Guide is the collection of statistical overviews that address the full spectrum of crime and victimization. The 14 topics presented in one-page statistical overviews -- which include a space to personalize with the sponsoring organization's contact information -- can be utilized as "stand alone" documents (which can be easily replicated and/or faxed) or incorporated into any public education or community awareness publications. Efforts have been made to incorporate the most current and accurate data that address crime and victimization in the United States today.



The incredible accomplishments, struggles and victories of America's victims' rights movement are incorporated into this impressive document, which was contributed to the Resource Guide by the National Victim Center. The landmark achievements of the past 24 years are highlighted in Crime Victims' Rights in America: An Historical Overview, which can be reproduced as a document on its own, or incorporated into speeches, brochures and other public outreach activities sponsored during NCVRW and throughout the year. There is a space on the final page for organizations to add personal contact information.


The feedback that VALOR receives from organizations that utilize the Resource Guide is essential to improving and expanding future NCVRW Resource Guides. When completing this brief form, victim service providers should specify which resources in the Guide are most helpful and least helpful. In addition, respondents are encouraged to attach any documentation of activities and special events they sponsor during 1997 NCVRW.


Perhaps the most replicated component of the NCVRW Resource Guide is the camera-ready artwork. The artwork can be utilized in many ways during NCVRW and throughout the year. Various pieces can be used as "stand alone" documents or incorporated into publications such as brochures, annual reports, and fact sheets. They can also be copied onto overhead transparencies for use in training programs.

The 1997 Resource Guide camera-ready artwork reflects the theme of NCVRW, along with other salient issues relevant to crime and victimization. When appropriate, the artwork can be personalized with local victim service providers' contact information. Local printers may be willing to donate printing services and/or paper, or provide these services at a reduced cost.

The six categories of artwork include:


The Office for Victims of Crime is pleased to announce that for the first time this year it is offering a graphically designed, multicolor, 24 x 34 inch poster to enhance your public education efforts during National Crime Victims' Rights Week and throughout the year.

In addition to this Resource Guide, OVC will send you one poster in March, 1997. To receive a limited number of additional copies of the poster, contact the Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center at 1-800-627-6872 and specify Item Number LT-261.


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1. Find out if your community has a bell-ringing choral group, and invite them to perform at any community events your organization sponsors during National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

2. Send a letter to churches and other institutions with belltowers (such as universities

and city halls), and ask them to simultaneously ring their bells at noon on Monday, April 14. Notify the news media of this special commemorative event.

3. For awards and prizes given out in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, consider giving engraved silver bells (available at many trophy or "namesake" stores) to tie into this year's theme.

4. Distribute tiny victims' rights bells to schoolchildren to tie on their shoelaces at any outreach programs you sponsor for pre-schools and elementary schools.

5. Hang bells (such as holiday tree ornaments) on a victims' rights commemorative tree at city hall or county/federal buildings.

6. Coordinate a public display with bells cut out of colored construction paper, and invite members of the community to write a message honoring crime victims or promoting victims' rights on each bell.

7. Create a public display of hanging bells -- each identifying a victim service program with contact information -- for your local library, police department, college, or other public venue.

8. Design nametags out of bell-shaped paper for guests at National Crime Victims' Rights Week public outreach and community education events.

9. Present a "bell of victim justice" to your City Council or Board of Supervisors at their meeting during National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

10. Develop fundraising displays for merchants where their customers can "chime in their change" to help "victims' rights ring across America" through support for local victim services.


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Whereas, every man, woman and child who is victimized by crime in America deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion, and deserves services and support to help them in the aftermath of crime; and

Whereas, annually, there are over 39 million people in the United States who are victimized by crime, 10 million of whom are victims of violent crime; and

Whereas, the physical, financial and psychological effects of crime have a devastating impact upon victims and the fabric of our great nation; and

Whereas, there are over 10,000 professional and volunteer agencies in the United States, including (number) in (city/county/state), that are committed to helping victims of crime and promoting safety and security for us all; and

Whereas, the citizens of (city/county/state) and their elected representatives believe that victims should have the right to participate in justice processes and be provided with information about their cases, and that offenders should be held fully accountable for their criminal actions; and

Whereas, April 13 to 19, 1997 is "National Crime Victims' Rights Week," a special commemoration when we join together to "let victims' rights ring across America;" therefore, be it

Resolved, that (individual or entity) proclaims the week of April 13 to 19, 1997 to be (city/county/state) Crime Victims' Rights Week, and be it further

Resolved, that the citizens of (city/county/state) commit our individual and collective resources in a chorus that lets victims' rights ring across our community and our nation; and be it further

Resolved, that a suitably prepared copy of this proclamation be presented to (your organization).


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:60 seconds: April 13 to 19, 1997 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time to join together as a community and honor victims who have suffered and survived, and victim advocates who selflessly give of themselves to ease our individual and collective pain that results from crime.

What do victims' rights mean to you? (NOTE: Personalize this paragraph in accordance with your state's laws.) If your home is burglarized, it means you will be informed of the investigation, and restitution may be ordered if the offender is caught and convicted. If a loved one is assaulted, victim compensation is available to help cover the costs of medical and mental health expenses. If you are in any way victimized, you have the right here in (state) to be treated with dignity and respect, and to know what is going on in your case.

Twenty-five years ago, America's first victims' rights organizations opened their doors to provide support and assistance to people who were hurt by crime. Today in (community), the tradition of service and support for victims continues. And so, during 1997 National Crime Victims' Rights Week -- April 13 to 19 -- we honor those who struggle to make victims' rights a reality here in (community). Please join us, and thousands of victim service groups in our nation, and let victims' rights ring across America during this special week, and every week! For information about special events and activities during National Crime Victims' Rights Week, please call (agency) at (area code/telephone number).

:30 seconds: When a family member, friend or neighbor is victimized by crime, we all feel its devastating impact. Often, we share victims' pain, and their frustration at having limited rights in our criminal, military, and juvenile justice systems. Always, we feel less safe when our neighborhoods, homes and schools are touched by crime. The week of April 13 to 19, 1997 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week. All across America, crime victims and their allies will join together during this special time and rededicate their energies to promoting justice for all people in America, and to let victims' rights ring across America. Please join us on (day/date) at (time) at (location) to honor victims of crime and those who serve them, and to affirm that victims' rights matter here in (city/county). For more information, please call (agency) at (area code/telephone number).

:15 seconds: Let victims' rights ring across America, loud and strong, during 1997 National Crime Victims' Rights Week -- April 13 to 19! Together, we honor crime victims who have suffered great pain, and salute the selfless professionals and volunteers who help them in the aftermath of crime. Please join us in recognizing these special people who make (city) safer, who fight for our rights. For more information about special National Crime Victims' Rights Week activities, call (area code/telephone number).

:15 seconds: If you or someone you know are a victim of crime, help is just a phone call away. You have rights in our justice system, and we have many services to help you. This week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time to honor victims and those who serve them. Find out about victims' rights and services here in (city) -- by calling (area code/telephone number) for more information.

:15 seconds: Victims of crime deserve rights and services. During National Crime Victims' Rights Week -- April 13 to 19 -- find out how you can get involved to help our friends and neighbors who have been hurt by crime. Let's make (city) a better community for all of us. Let's make victims' rights ring across (city), (state), and America. Call (area code/telephone number) for more information.


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April 3, 1997 (A/C) Telephone

Seventeenth Annual Commemoration of National Crime Victims' Rights Week Slated

"Let Victims' Rights Ring Across America!"

(City/State) -- National Crime Victims' Rights Week -- the time-honored tradition of honoring crime victims and those who serve them -- is slated for April 13 to 19, 1997. In communities large and small, urban and rural throughout our nation, citizens will join together with the resounding theme to "let victims' rights ring across America!".

Today in the United States, there are over 30,000 federal and state laws that define and protect the rights of crime victims. Twenty-nine states (including [your state], if applicable) afford constitutional protection of victims' rights, and a federal victims' rights constitutional amendment is pending in Congress. Yet in order for victims' rights to truly ring, laws are not quite enough. Victims' rights require support from the citizens of (state). And victim services programs need volunteers to make sure that every innocent victim of crime gets the help that he or she needs and deserves.

Here in (city/county), a number of special events are planned to recognize the many accomplishments of America's victims' rights discipline, and to pay tribute to victims who have turned their personal pain into progress, policies and programs that benefit us all:

(List commemorative events here with dates, times, and locations)

Similar special events will occur across our nation during 1997 National Crime Victims' Rights Week. According to Aileen Adams, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice, the groundswell of support for victims' rights and services has never been greater.

"What began 25 years ago as a small but determined grass roots movement has developed into a respected discipline comprised of crime victims, victim advocates, and justice and allied professionals, all of whom share a commitment to justice and healing for crime victims," Adams noted.

"Throughout National Crime Victims' Rights Week, thousands of professional and volunteer organizations join together with groups in your community to let victims' rights ring across America with the sound of safety, security, support, and service for all people," she concluded.

For additional information about 1997 National Crime Victims' Rights Week activities, or about victims' rights and services here in (city/county), please contact (name) at (area code/



Type your press release double-spaced. If your press release is more than one page, type "--more--" in the bottom right corner, and paper clip the second page to the first page. Add the title and date of the press release, plus "page two" in the top left corner of the second page.


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"For Whom the Bell Tolls"

By (name of author)

(Title/Agency or Organization)

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Valediction: Of Weeping, John Donne

This week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week in America. Proclaimed by the President and Governors across our country, the theme for this special commemoration is "Let Victims' Rights Ring Across America." It is a special week dedicated to those that have been injured and killed by criminal victimization. It is also a time to recognize and reflect upon the many accomplishments on the local, state, and federal levels that have improved rights and services extended to crime victims in our nation.

Do victims' rights ring out for crime victims in our community or, indeed, across America?

Victims' rights surely ring more loudly this year than ever before. Every state has enacted laws to improve crime victims' rights in the criminal justice system, although these rights still vary greatly across the nation. In 29 states (including your state?), victims' rights have been strengthened by the enactment of state constitutional amendments. A federal Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendment has been introduced in Congress with strong bi-partisan support. And across America, over 10,000 programs now exist to provide support to those who have been victimized by crime.

But before we rejoice in our accomplishments that have improved the treatment of crime victims, it is important to first ask, for whom does the bell of victimization toll?

Each year in America, nearly 39 million individuals become victims of crime. Sadly, statistics show that for over half of these victims, it is not the first time they have been victimized, nor will it be the last. Becoming a victim of crime has become a right of passage in our violent nation -- for children in school, for adults in the workplace, for elderly in retirement. No age group is immune from the significant threat, and all too often reality, of becoming a victim of crime.

For example, the National Education Association reports that each day in America, 100,000 children carry guns to school, 160,000 children miss class because of the fear of being physically harmed, and 40 students are killed or injured by firearms. In America's workplaces, over one million violent crimes occur each year; on our nation's roads, over two million people are injured or killed by drunk drivers each year; and during what should be the "golden years," over 800,000 elderly citizens are abused each year.

(Contact your local police or sheriff's department for the following information)

Take a moment and examine the magnitude of crime in our community. During the past year the bell of victimization has tolled for ________ residents whose homes were burglarized and _________ citizens whose automobiles were stolen. Moreover, violent crime in our community continues to take its toll. Over the past year:

While the toll of victimization continues to climb each year, can we ensure that our community extends the same degree of justice to the victimized as it does to offenders?

Victim justice means that victims should be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect, not only by our justice systems, but by all individuals with whom a victim comes into contact in the aftermath of victimization.

Justice for crime victims also means that they are no longer treated just as evidence, but as individuals with rights to be informed of their case proceedings, to be encouraged to participate at all stages of the criminal justice process, and to be ensured that their voices are heard as their case moves through the criminal justice system. During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, let's stop and ask: Does every crime victim that enters the criminal justice system in our community receive these rights? Only then will victims' rights truly ring across America.

NOTE: This opinion/editorial column can also be utilized as an actuality for radio or television. Most stations require that radio/T.V. actualities -- read by the author -- be limited to 60 seconds. Please edit as needed to deliver a comprehensive message that is personalized to your community.


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National Crime Victims' Rights Week is a special commemorative time each year to honor crime victims, their families, and friends. It is time to reach out with compassion to all crime victims and to recognize the often devastating consequences of crime, such as the grief felt by loved ones left behind when a family member is murdered; the fear of a young child who witnesses acts of violence, not kindness, in their homes and neighborhoods; and the lost hope of isolated elderly victims of fraud who, along with losing their life savings, have been robbed of dignity and self-reliance.

It is also a time to recognize the countless professionals and volunteers who believe victims' rights are worth fighting for -- victim advocates, concerned justice officials, clergy members, medical and mental health workers, educators and academicians, policymakers and others -- indeed, including many people here today.

During this special week, we join together this year to "let victims' rights ring across America," and to recognize that when one member of our community is victimized, we all suffer the consequences. The impact of crime has a true domino effect from which none of us is immune. Our individual fear increases, and our collective safety becomes jeopardized. One victim's pain is our shared tragedy, and we must join forces to find shared solutions.

As we reflect on the need to "let victims' rights ring across America," I am reminded of one of the great symbols of justice and fairness in our nation, the Liberty Bell. The principles that the Liberty Bell embodies hold true today, two centuries after it was cast. But it is most famous for its flaw that has prevented it from ever being rung as a bell. Like the Liberty Bell, there is a large crack that detracts from the clarity of victims' rights ringing across America. It is a crack that signifies that while victims' rights are important, they are not extended to each victim in every case. Indeed, victims' rights ring more loudly in some states than in others. Many juvenile justice systems are still cloaked in secrecy, and victims do not have the consistent rights to be present, to be informed, and to be heard. While victims' rights exist on the books in all states, they are often ignored.

To ensure a baseline of consistent victims' rights, an effort to amend our federal constitution has begun. President Clinton has spoken strongly in support of constitutional rights for crime victims, stating that victims "should be at the center of the criminal justice process, not on the outside looking in." Last year and this year, a bi-partisan resolution has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. But the effort to help crime victims should not just focus on Congress. There is so much that each of us can do to help crime victims:

If victims' rights are truly going to ring across America -- in our homes and neighborhoods, schools and streets, halls of justice and public policy arenas -- we must work together to fill the crack in the Liberty Bell of victim justice.

It's up to us to each of us to say: if the sounds of liberty and the chimes of justice truly ring across America, "justice for all" must mean "justice for crime victims too!"


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You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more. Erica Jong

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next. Ursula K. Le Guin

Learn from the mistakes of others - you can't live long enough to make them all yourself. Unknown

Give me a place to stand and I will move the world. Archimedes

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you. Mary Tyler Moore

The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident. Charles Lamb

By persuading others, we convince ourselves. Junius

In youth we learn; in age we understand. Marie Ebner-Eschenbach

I don't believe we can have justice without caring, or caring without justice. These are inseparable aspects of life and work. Justine Wise Polier

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try. Beverly Sills

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention. Unknown

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better. Richard Hooker

Nothing is too small to know, and nothing too big to attempt. William Van Horne

What does not destroy me makes me strong. Friedrich Nietzsche

Quotations Related to the 1997 Theme

" Let Victims' Rights Ring Across America"

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you. Ramsey Clark

The bell strikes one. We take no note of time, but from its loss. Edward Young

I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample under foot. Robert G. Ingersoll

As if it harm'd me, giving others the same changes and rights as myself - as if it were indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same. Walt Whitman

Past experience should be a guide post, not a hitching post. Unknown

. . . Ring out the false, ring in the true. Alfred Lloyd Tennyson

To perceive a path and point it out is one thing, but to blaze the trial and labor to construct the path a harder task. Winston Churchhill

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. Reinhold Niebuhr

The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Robert F. Kennedy

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