Crime Victims' Rights in America: A Historical
"The future is not a result of choices among
alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is
created — created first in mind and will, created next
in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but
one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and
the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination."
— John Schaar
- The first crime victim compensation program is established
- By 1970, five additional compensation programs are created—New
York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, and the Virgin Islands.
- The first three victim assistance programs are created:
- Aid for Victims of Crime in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Bay Area Women Against Rape in San Francisco, California.
- Rape Crisis Center in Washington, D.C.
- The Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)
funds the first victim/witness programs in the Brooklyn and Milwaukee
District Attorneys' offices, plus seven others through a grant
to the National District Attorneys Association, to create model
programs of assistance for victims, encourage victim cooperation,
and improve prosecution.
- The first law enforcement-based victim assistance programs
are established in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Indianapolis,
- The U.S. Congress passes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment
Act which establishes the National Center on Child Abuse and
Neglect (NCCAN). The new Center creates an information clearinghouse,
provides technical assistance and model programs.
- The first "Victims' Rights Week" is organized by
the Philadelphia District Attorney.
- Citizen activists from across the country unite to expand
victim services and increase recognition of victims' rights through
the formation of the National Organization for Victim Assistance
- The National Organization for Women forms a task force to
examine the problem of battering. It requests research into the
problem, along with money for battered women's shelters.
- Nebraska becomes the first state to abolish the marital rape
- The first national conference on battered women is sponsored
by the Milwaukee Task Force on Women in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- In Fresno County, California, Chief Probation Officer James
Rowland creates the first victim impact statement to provide
the judiciary with an objective inventory of victim injuries
and losses prior to sentencing.
- Women's Advocates in St. Paul, Minnesota starts the first
hotline for battered women. Women's Advocates and Haven House
in Pasadena, California establish the first shelters for battered
- The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards
is established by the existing 22 compensation programs to promote
the creation of a nationwide network of compensation programs.
- Oregon becomes the first state to enact mandatory arrest in
domestic violence cases.
- The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) is formed
to combat sexual violence and promote services for rape victims.
- The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is
organized as a voice for the battered women's movement on a national
level. NCADV initiates the introduction of the Family Violence
Prevention and Services Act in the U.S. Congress.
- Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), a self-help support group,
is founded in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Minnesota becomes the first state to allow probable cause
(warrantless) arrest in cases of domestic assault, regardless
of whether a protection order had been issued.
- Frank G. Carrington, considered by many to be "the father
of the victims' rights movement," founds the Crime Victims'
Legal Advocacy Institute, Inc., to promote the rights of crime
victims in the civil and criminal justice systems. The nonprofit
organization was renamed VALOR, the Victims' Assistance Legal
Organization, in 1981.
- The Office on Domestic Violence is established in the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, but is later closed
- The U.S. Congress fails to enact the Federal Law Enforcement
Assistance Administration (LEAA) and federal funding for
victims' programs is phased out. Many grassroots and "system-based" programs
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is founded after the death
of 13-year-old Carl Lightner, who was killed by a repeat offender
drunk driver. The first two MADD chapters are created in Sacramento,
California and Annapolis, Maryland.
- The U.S. Congress passes the Parental Kidnaping Prevention
Act of 1980.
- Wisconsin passes the first "Crime Victims' Bill of Rights."
- The First National Day of Unity in October is established
by NCADV to mourn battered women who have died, celebrate women
who have survived the violence, and honor all who have worked
to defeat domestic violence. This Day becomes Domestic Violence
Awareness Week and, in 1987, expands to a month of awareness
activities each October.
- NCADV holds its first national conference in Washington, D.C.,
which gains federal recognition of critical issues facing battered
women, and sees the birth of several state coalitions.
- The first Victim Impact Panel is sponsored by Remove Intoxicated
Drivers (RID) in Oswego County, New York.
- Ronald Reagan becomes the first President to proclaim "Crime
Victims' Rights Week" in April.
- The disappearance and murder of missing child Adam Walsh prompt
a national campaign to raise public awareness about child abduction
and enact laws to better protect children.
- The Attorney General's Task Force on Violent Crime recommends
that a separate Task Force be created to consider victims' issues.
- In a Rose Garden ceremony, President Reagan appoints the Task
Force on Victims of Crime, which holds public hearings in six
cities across the nation to create a greatly needed national
focus on the needs of crime victims. The Task Force Final
Report offers 68 recommendations that become the framework
for the advancement of new programs and policies. Its final recommendation,
to amend the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to guarantee
that ". . . the victim, in every criminal prosecution, shall
have the right to be present and to be heard at all critical
stages of judicial proceedings . . .," becomes a vital source
of new energy pushing toward the successful efforts to secure
state constitutional amendments through the 1980s and beyond.
- The Federal Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 brings "fair
treatment standards" to victims and witnesses in the federal
criminal justice system.
- California voters overwhelmingly pass Proposition 8, which
guarantees restitution and other statutory reforms to crime victims.
- The passage of the Missing Children's Act of 1982 helps parents
guarantee that identifying information about their missing child
is promptly entered into the FBI National Crime Information Center
(NCIC) computer system.
- The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is created by the U.S.
Department of Justice within the Office of Justice Programs to
implement recommendations from the President's Task Force on
Victims of Crime. OVC establishes a national resource center,
trains professionals, and develops model legislation to protect
- The U.S. Attorney General establishes a Task Force on Family
Violence, which holds six public hearings across the United States.
- The U.S. Attorney General issues guidelines for federal victim
and witness assistance.
- In April, President Reagan honors crime victims in a White
House Rose Garden ceremony.
- The First National Conference of the Judiciary on Victims
of Crime is held at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada,
with support from the National Institute of Justice. Conferees
develop recommendations for the judiciary on victims' rights
- President Reagan proclaims the first National Missing Children's
Day in observance of the disappearance of missing child Etan
- Wisconsin passes the first "Child Victim and Witness
Bill of Rights."
- The International Association of Chiefs of Police Board of
Governors adopts a Crime Victims' Bill of Rights and establishes
a victims' rights committee to bring about renewed emphasis on
the needs of crime victims by law enforcement officials nationwide.
- The passage of the Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA) establishes
the Crime Victims Fund, made up of federal criminal fines, penalties
and bond forfeitures, to support state victim compensation and
local victim service programs.
- President Reagan signs the Justice Assistance Act, which establishes
a financial assistance program for state and local government
and funds 200 new victim service programs.
- The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 is enacted,
providing strong incentives to states without "21" laws
to raise the minimum age for drinking, saving thousands of young
lives in years to come.
- The first of several international affiliates of MADD is chartered
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
is created as the national resource agency for missing children.
Passage of the Missing Children's Assistance Act provides a Congressional
mandate for the Center.
- The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services is founded to involve
the faith community in violence prevention and victim assistance.
- Crime Prevention Week in February is marked by a White House
ceremony with McGruff, the crime fighting mascot of the National Crime
- The Task Force on Family Violence presents its report to the U.S.
Attorney General with recommendations for action, including the
criminal justice system's response to battered women; prevention
and awareness; education and training; and data collection and
- The U.S. Congress passes the Family Violence Prevention and
Services Act, which earmarks federal funding for programs serving
victims of domestic violence.
- The ad-hoc committee on the constitutional amendment formalizes its
plans to secure passage of amendments at the state level.
- Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) is organized at the first
police survivors' seminar held in Washington, D.C. by 110 relatives
of officers killed in the line of duty.
- The first National Symposium on Sexual Assault is co-sponsored by
the Office of Justice Programs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, highlighting
on the federal level the important needs of victims of rape and
- A victim/witness notification system is established within the
Federal Bureau of Prisons.
- The Office for Victims of Crime hosts the first national symposium on
- Victim/witness coordinator positions are established in the U.S.
Attorneys' offices within the U.S. Department of Justice.
- California State University, Fresno, initiates the first Victim
Services Certificate Program offered for academic credit by a
- OVC establishes the National Victims Resource Center, now
named the Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center (OVCRC),
to serve as a clearinghouse for OVC publications and other resource information.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $68 million.
- The National Victim Center (renamed The National Center for
Victims of Crime in 1998) is founded in honor of Sunny von Bulow
to promote the rights and needs of crime victims, and to educate
Americans about the devastating effect of crime on our society.
- The National Institute of Mental Health and NOVA sponsor a
services, research and evaluation colloquium on the "Aftermath
of Crime: A Mental Health Crisis."
- The United Nations General Assembly passes the International
Declaration on the Rights of Victims of Crime and the Abuse
- President Reagan announces a Child Safety Partnership with
26 members. Its mission is to enhance private sector efforts
to promote child safety, to clarify information about child victimization,
and to increase public awareness of child abuse.
- The U.S. Surgeon General issues a report identifying domestic
violence as a major public health problem.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $62 million.
- The Office for Victims of Crime awards the first grants to
support state victim compensation and assistance programs.
- Two years after its passage, the Victims of Crime Act is amended
by the Children's Justice Act to provide funds specifically for
the investigation and prosecution of child abuse.
- Over 100 constitutional amendment supporters meet in Washington,
D.C. at a forum sponsored by NOVA to refine a national plan to
secure state constitutional amendments for victims of crime.
- Rhode Island passes a constitutional amendment granting victims
the right to restitution, to submit victim impact statements,
and to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Victim compensation programs have been established in 35
- MADD's "Red Ribbon Campaign" enlists motorists to
display a red ribbon on their automobiles, pledging to drive
safe and sober during the holidays. This national public awareness
effort has since become an annual campaign.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $77 million.
- The National Victims' Constitutional Amendment Network (NVCAN)
and Steering Committee are formed at a meeting hosted by the
National Victim Center.
- Security on Campus, Inc. (SOC) is established by Howard and
Connie Clery, following the tragic robbery, rape and murder of
their daughter Jeanne at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. SOC
raises national awareness about the hidden epidemic of violence
on our nation's campuses.
- The American Correctional Association establishes a Task Force
on Victims of Crime.
- NCADV establishes the first national toll-free domestic violence
- National Domestic Violence Awareness
Month is officially designated to commemorate
battered women and those who serve them.
- In a 5-4 decision, the
U.S. Supreme Court rules in Booth v. Maryland (482 U.S. 496)
victim impact statements are unconstitutional
(in violation of the Eighth Amendment) when
applied to the penalty phase of a capital trial as “
only the defendant’s personal responsibility
and moral guilt” may be considered in capital
sentencing. However, significant dissenting
opinions are offered.
- Victim advocates in Florida, frustrated by five years of inaction
on a proposed constitutional amendment by their legislature,
begin a petition drive. Thousands of citizens sign petitions
supporting constitutional protection for victims' rights. The
Florida legislature reconsiders, and the constitutional amendment
appears on the 1988 ballot.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $93 million.
- OVC sets aside funds for the Victim Assistance in Indian Country
(VAIC) grant program to provide direct services to Native Americans
by establishing "on-reservation" victim assistance
programs in Indian Country.
- The National Aging Resource Center on Elder Abuse (NARCEA)
is established in a cooperative agreement among the American
Public Welfare Association, the National Association of State
Units on Aging, and the University of Delaware. Renamed the National
Center on Elder Abuse, it continues to provide information and
- State v. Ciskie is the first case to allow
the use of expert testimony to explain the behavior and mental
state of an adult rape victim. The testimony is used to show
why a victim of repeated physical and sexual assaults by her
intimate partner would not immediately call the police or take
action. The jury convicts the defendant on four counts of rape.
- The Federal Drunk Driving Prevention Act is passed, and states
raise the minimum drinking age to 21.
- Constitutional amendments are introduced in Arizona, California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, South Carolina, and Washington.
Florida's amendment is placed on the November ballot, where it
passes with 90 percent of the vote. Michigan's constitutional
amendment passes with over 80 percent of the vote.
- The first "Indian Nations: Justice for Victims of Crime" conference
is sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime in Rapid City, South
- VOCA amendments legislatively establish the Office for Victims
of Crime, elevate the position of Director by making Senate confirmation
necessary for appointment, and induce state compensation programs
victims of domestic violence, homicide, and drunk driving. In
addition, VOCA amendments added a new "priority" category
for funding victim assistance programs at the behest of MADD
for "previously underserved victims of violent crime."
- OVC provides funding for the first time to the National Association
of Crime Victim Compensation Boards to expand national training
and technical assistance efforts.
- OVC establishes a Federal Emergency Fund for victims in the federal
criminal justice system.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits
total $133 million.
- In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court
reaffirms in South Carolina v. Gathers (490
U.S. 805) its 1987 decision in Booth v.
Maryland that victim impact evidence and
arguments are unconstitutional (in violation of
the Eighth Amendment) when applied to the
penalty phase of a capital trial as "a sentence
of death must be relevant to the
circumstances of the crime or to the
defendant's moral culpability." Again,
significant dissenting opinions are offered.
- "White Collar Crime 101" is published,
which begins a national dialogue about
implementing rights and resources for victims
- The legislatures in Texas and Washington pass their respective constitutional
amendments, which are both ratified by
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $146 million.
- The U.S. Congress passes the Hate Crime Statistics Act requiring
the U.S. Attorney General to collect data of incidence of certain
crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, religion, sexual
orientation or ethnicity.
- The Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act, requiring
institutions of higher education to disclose murder, rape, robbery
and other crimes on campus, is signed into law by President Bush.
- The Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990, which features reforms
to make the federal criminal justice system less traumatic for
child victims and witnesses, is passed by the U.S. Congress.
- The Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 incorporates
a Bill of Rights for federal crime victims and codifies services
that should be available to victims of crime.
- U.S. Congress passes legislation proposed by MADD to prevent
drunk drivers and other offenders from filing bankruptcy to avoid
paying criminal restitution or civil fines.
- The Arizona petition drive to place the victims' rights constitutional
amendment on the ballot succeeds, and it is ratified by voters.
- The first National Incidence Study on
Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway
Children in America shows that annually, over
one million children fall victim to abduction.
- The National Child Search Assistance Act requires law enforcement
to enter reports of missing children and unidentified persons
in the NCIC computer.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $128 million.
- U.S. Representative Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) files the first
Congressional Joint Resolution to place victims' rights in the
- The Violence Against Women Act of 1991 is considered by the
- California State University-Fresno approves the first Bachelors
Degree Program in Victimology in the nation.
- The Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights Act is introduced
in the U.S. Congress.
- The results of the first national public opinion poll to examine
citizens' attitudes about violence and victimization, America
Speaks Out, are released by the National Victim Center during
National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
- In a 7-2 decision in Payne v. Tennessee (501 U.S. 808), the U.S. Supreme Court
reverses its earlier decisions in Booth v.
Maryland (1987) and South Carolina v.
Gathers (1989) and rules that testimony and
prosecutorial arguments commenting on the
murder victim’s good character, as well as
how the victim’s death affected his or her
survivors does not violate the defendant’s
constitutional rights in a capital case.
- The Attorney General's Summit on Law Enforcement and Violent
Crime focuses national attention on victims' rights in the criminal
- The U.S. Attorney General issues new comprehensive guidelines
that establish procedures for the federal criminal justice system
to respond to the needs of crime victims. The 1991 Attorney
General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance implement new protections
of the Crime Control Act of 1990, integrating the requirements
of the Federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, the Victims of
Child Abuse Act and the Victim and Witness Protection Act of
- The first national conference that addresses crime victims'
rights and needs in corrections is sponsored by the Office for
Victims of Crime in California.
- The first nationwide survey is conducted to
determine the scope of fraud and its effects,
which finds that an estimated $40 billion is lost
to fraud each year. One-third of the people
surveyed report that an attempt to defraud
them had occurred in the previous year.
- The first International Conference on Campus Sexual Assault
is held in Orlando, Florida.
- The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) establishes
a Victim Issues Committee to examine victims' issues and concerns
related to community corrections.
- The International Parental Child Kidnaping Act makes the act of
unlawfully removing a child outside the United States a federal
- The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services facilitates a conference of
leaders of 13 religious denominations to plan ways in which these large
religious bodies can increase awareness of crime victims' needs and
provide appropriate services.
- The New Jersey legislature passes a victims' rights constitutional amendment,
which is ratified by voters in November.
- Colorado legislators introduce a constitutional amendment
on the first day of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Fifteen days
later, the bill is unanimously passed by both Houses to be placed
on the ballot in 1992.
- In an 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Simon & Schuster v.
New York Crime Victims Board that New York's notoriety-for-profit
statute was overly broad and, in the final analysis, unconstitutional.
Notoriety-for-profit statutes had been passed by many states
at this time to prevent convicted criminals from profiting
from the proceeds of depictions of their crime in the media
States must now review their existing statutes to comply with
the Supreme Court's decision.
- The Washington Secretary of State
implements the nation’s first Address
Confidentiality Program, which provides
victims of domestic violence, stalking and
sexual assault an alternate, confidential
mailing address, and offers confidentiality for
two normally public records: voter registration
and motor vehicle records.
- By the end of 1991, seven states have incorporated victims'
rights into their state constitutions.
- OVC provides funding to the National Victim Center for Civil
Legal Remedies for Crime Victims to train victim advocates
nationwideabout additional avenues for victims to seek justice
within the civil justice system.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $221 million.
- Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, published
during National Crime Victims' Rights Week by the National Crime
Victims Research and Treatment Center and the National Victim
Center, clarifies the scope and devastating effect of rape in
this nation, including the fact that 683,000 women are raped
annually in the United States.
- The Association of Paroling Authorities, International establishes
a Victim Issues Committee to examine victims' needs, rights and
services in parole processes.
- The U.S. Congress re-authorizes the Higher Education Bill
which includes the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights.
- The Battered Women's Testimony Act, which urges states to
accept expert testimony in criminal cases involving battered
women, is passed by Congress and signed into law by President
- In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court—in R.A.V.
vs. City of St. Paul—struck down a local hate crimes
ordinance in Minnesota.
- Five states—Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, and
New Mexico—ratify constitutional amendments for victims'
- Twenty-eight states pass anti-stalking legislation.
- Massachusetts passes a landmark bill creating a statewide
computerized domestic violence registry and requires judges to
check the registry when handling such cases.
- The first national conference is convened, with support from
OVC, that brings together representatives from VOCA victim
and victim compensation programs.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $144 million.
- Wisconsin ratifies its constitutional amendment for victims'
rights, bringing the total number of states with these amendments
- President Clinton signs the "Brady Bill" requiring
a waiting period for the purchase of handguns.
- Congress passes the Child Sexual Abuse Registry Act, establishing
a national repository for information on child sex offenders.
- Twenty-two states pass anti-stalking statutes, bringing the
total number of states with anti-stalking laws to 50, plus the
District of Columbia.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $185 million.
- The American Correctional Association Victims Committee publishes
the landmark Report and Recommendations on Victims of Juvenile
Crime, which offers guidelines for improving victims' rights
and services within the juvenile justice system.
- Six additional states pass constitutional amendments for victims'
rights—the largest number ever in a single year—bringing
the total number of states with amendments to 20. States with
new amendments include Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Maryland, Ohio,
- President Clinton signs a comprehensive package of federal
victims' rights legislation as part of the Violent Crime Control
and Law Enforcement Act. The Act includes:
- Violence Against Women Act,
which authorizes more than $1 billion
in funding for programs to combat
violence against women.
- Enhanced VOCA funding provisions.
- Establishment of a National
Child Sex Offender Registry.
- Enhanced sentences for drunk
drivers with child passengers.
- Kentucky becomes the first state to institute automated telephone
voice notification to crime victims of their offender's status
and release date.
- OVC establishes the Community Crisis Response (CCR) program,
using the NOVA model, to improve services to victims of violent
crimes in communities that have experienced crimes resulting
in multiple victimizations.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $233 million.
- Legislatures in three states—Indiana, Nebraska, and
North Carolina—pass constitutional amendments that will
be placed on the ballot in 1996.
- The National Victims' Constitutional Amendment Network proposes
the first draft of language for a federal constitutional amendment
for victims' rights.
- The U.S. Department of Justice convenes a national conference
to encourage implementation of the Violence Against Women Act.
- The first class graduates from the National Victim Assistance
Academy in Washington, D.C. Supported by the Office for Victims
of Crime, the university-based Academy provides an academically
credited 45-hour curriculum on victimology, victims' rights and
myriad other topics.
- The U.S. Department of Justice issues Attorney General Guidelines
on victim and witness assistance.
- The Beijing World Conference on Women
issues a landmark call for global action to end
violence against women.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund reaches an historic high with
deposits over $525 million.
- Federal Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendments are introduced
in both houses of Congress with bi-partisan support.
- Both presidential candidates and the Attorney General endorse
the concept of a Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendment.
- Eight states ratify the passage of constitutional amendments
for victims' rights—raising the total number of state constitutional
amendments to 29 nationwide.
- The Community Notification Act, known as "Megan's Law," provides
for notifying communities of the location of convicted sex offenders
by amendment to the national Child Sexual Abuse Registry legislation.
- President Clinton signs the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act, providing one million dollars in funding to strengthen
antiterrorism efforts, making restitution mandatory in violent
crime cases, and expanding the compensation and assistance services
for victims of terrorism both at home and abroad, including victims
in the military.
- The Office for Victims of Crime uses its new authority under
the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act to provide
substantial financial assistance to the victims and survivors
of the Oklahoma City bombing.
- The Mandatory Victims' Restitution Act,
enacted as Title II of the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act, allows federal
courts to award "public harm" restitution
directly to state VOCA victim assistance
programs. As a result of the new sentencing
guidelines, judges can require federal
offenders in certain drug offense cases to pay
"community restitution." The Act also requires
federal courts to order restitution to victims of
- The VOCA definition of "crime victim" is
expanded to include victims of financial crime,
allowing this group to receive counseling,
advocacy, and support services.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is
established to provide crisis intervention
information and referrals to victims of domestic violence and
their friends and family.
- OVC launches a number of international crime victim initiatives,
including working to foster worldwide implementation of a United
Nations declaration on victims' rights and working to better
assist Americans who are victimized abroad.
- The Church Arson Prevention Act is signed into law in July,
in response to increasing numbers of acts of arson against religious
institutions around the country.
- The Drug-Induced Rape Prevention Act is enacted to address the
emerging issue of drug-facilitated rape and sexual assault.
- The Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
(OJJDP), within the U.S. Department of Justice, issues the Juvenile
Justice Action Plan that includes recommendations for victims' rights
and services for victims of juvenile offenders within the juvenile
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund reaches its
second highest year in fund collections with
deposits totaling $363 million.
- In January, a federal victims' rights constitutional amendment
is re-introduced in the opening days of the 105th Congress with
strong bi-partisan support.
- In February, OVC convenes the first National Symposium on
Victims of Federal Crimes. Coordinated by the National Organization
for Victim Assistance, the symposium provides intensive training
to nearly 1,000 federal employees who work with crime victims
around the world.
- In March, Congress passes at historic speed the Victims' Rights
Clarification Act of 1997 to clarify existing federal law allowing
victims to attend a trial and to appear as "impact witnesses" during
the sentencing phase of both capital and non-capital cases. Supported
by the Justice Department, President Clinton immediately signs
the Act, allowing the victims and survivors of the bombing of
the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City to both
observe the trial that is scheduled to begin within days and
to provide input later at sentencing.
- In April, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducts hearings
on the proposed federal constitutional amendment. While not endorsing
specific language, Attorney General Janet Reno testifies in support
of federal constitutional rights for crime victims.
- In June, President Clinton reaffirms his support of federal
constitutional rights for crime victims in a Rose Garden ceremony
attended by members of Congress, criminal justice officials,
and local, state, and national victims' rights organizations.
Also that month, the Judiciary Committee in the U.S. House of
Representatives conducts its first hearing on the proposed amendment.
- To fully recognize the sovereignty of Indian Nations, OVC
for the first time provides victim assistance grants in Indian
Country directly to the tribes.
- A federal anti-stalking law is enacted by Congress.
- Due to the large influx of VOCA funds in the previous fiscal
year, OVC hosts a series of regional meetings with state VOCA administrators
to encourage states to develop multi-year funding strategies
to help stabilize local program funding, expand outreach to previously
underserved victims, and to support the development and implementation of
technologies to improve victims' rights and services.
- OVC continues its support of the victims and survivors of
the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City
by funding additional advocates, crisis counseling, and travel
expenses to court proceedings for the bombing victims. When the
venue of the trial is changed to Denver, Colorado, OVC provides funding
for a special closed-circuit broadcast to victims and survivors
in Oklahoma City.
- A comprehensive national training
conference for VOCA compensation and
assistance programs is hosted by the National Association of
Crime Victim Compensation Boards and the National Organization
Victim Assistance with support from OVC.
VOCA representatives from all 50 states and
every territory are in attendance.
- During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, OVC officially
launches its homepage http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/,
providing Internet access to its comprehensive resources about victims'
rights and services.
- New Directions from the Field: Victims Rights and Services
for the 21st Century is published by OVC.
It assesses the nation's progress in meeting the recommendations
set forth in the Final Report of the 1982 President's
Task Force on Victims of Crime, and issues over 250 new recommendations
from the field for the next millennium.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $324 million.
- Senate Joint Resolution 44, a new version of the federal Victims'
Rights Amendment, is introduced in the Senate by Senators Jon
Kyl and Dianne Feinstein. The Senate Judiciary Committee subsequently
approves SJR 44 by an 11-6 vote. No further action is taken on
SJR 44 during the 105th Congress.
- Four new states pass state victims' rights constitutional
amendments: Louisiana by a voter margin of approval of 69 percent;
Mississippi by 93 percent; Montana by 71 percent; and Tennessee
by 89 percent. Also in 1998, the Supreme Court of Oregon overturns
the Oregon state victims' rights amendment, originally passed
in 1996, citing structural deficiencies.
- In April, representatives from system and
community-based organizations meet in St.
Louis for OVC's Fraud Victimization Focus
Group. Participants call for increased
awareness, research, accountability, and
services for victims of fraud and identity theft.
OVC's "Victims of Fraud & Economic Crime"
publication results from this focus group.
- PL 105-244, the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, is passed.
Part E of this legislation, "Grants to Combat Violent Crimes
Against Women on Campus," is authorized through the year
2003, and appropriates a total of $10 million in grant funding
to the Violence Against Women Grants Office for fiscal year 1999.
Another primary aim of this legislation is to reduce binge drinking
and illegal alcohol consumption on college campuses.
- The Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of
1998 is enacted, providing for numerous sentencing enhancements
and other initiatives addressing sex crimes against children,
including crimes facilitated by the use of interstate facilities
and the Internet.
- The Crime Victims with Disabilities Act of
1998 is passed, representing the first effort to
systematically gather information about the
extent of victimization of individuals with
disabilities. This legislation directs the
Attorney General to conduct a study on crimes
against individuals with developmental
disabilities within 18 months. In addition, the
Bureau of Justice Statistics must include
statistics on the nature of crimes against
individuals with developmental disabilities and
victim characteristics in its annual National
Crime Victimization Survey by 2000.
- The Identity Theft and Deterrence Act of
1998 is signed into law in October. This
landmark federal legislation outlaws identity
theft and directs the U.S. Sentencing
Commission to consider various factors in
determining penalties, including the number of
victims and the value of losses to any
individual victim. The Act further authorizes
the Federal Trade Commission to log and
acknowledge reports of identity theft, provide
information to victims, and refer complaints to
appropriate consumer reporting and law
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total a record
- On January 19, 1999, the Federal Victims' Rights Constitutional
Amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 3, identical to SJR 44) is
introduced before the 106th Congress.
- The Victim Restitution Enforcement Act of
1999 (S. 145), sponsored by Senator Abraham
Spencer and introduced in the Senate
Judiciary Committee on January 19, 1999, is
officially titled a Bill to Control Crime by
Requiring Mandatory Victim Restitution.
Components of the proposed bill include
establishment of procedures regarding the
court's ascertaining of the victim's losses;
requirement that restitution to victims be
ordered in the full amount of their losses
without consideration of the defendant's
economic circumstances; and authorization of
the court, upon application of the United
States, to enter a restraining order or
injunction, require the execution of a
satisfactory performance bond, or take any
other action necessary to preserve the
availability of property or assets necessary to
satisfy the criminal restitution order.
- On January 20, 1999, Senator Joseph Biden introduces the Violence
Against Women Act II, a bill that extends and strengthens the
original 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Key provisions of this
bill would: (1) strengthen enforcement of "stay away" orders
across state lines; (2) boost spending for more women's shelters;
(3) end insurance discrimination against battered women; (4)
extend the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover court appearances
by battered women; and (5) target the "acquaintance rape
drug," Rohypnol, with maximum federal penalties.
- The fifth National Victim Assistance Academy is held in June
1999 at five university locations across the United States, bringing
the total number of Academy graduates to nearly 1,000.
- OVC issues the first grants to create State Victim Assistance
- The National Crime Victim Bar Association is formed by the
National Center for Victims of Crime to promote civil justice
for victims of crime.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $777 million.
- The U.S. Congress passes a new national drunk driving limit
of 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) with the strong support
of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other victim advocacy organizations,
as well as leading highway safety, health, medical, law enforcement,
and insurance groups. The new law, which passed with strong bipartisan
support, requires the states to pass 0.08 "per se intoxication" laws
or lose a portion of their annual federal highway funding.
- In October 2000, the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 is
signed into law by President Clinton, extending VAWA through
2005, and authorizing funding at $3.3 billion over the five-year
period. The Act:
- Authorizes $80 million a year for rape prevention
and education grants.
- Expands federal stalking statute to include
stalking on the Internet.
- Authorizes $875 million over five years for
battered women's shelters.
- Provides $25 million in 2001 for transitional
- Provides funding totaling $25 million to address
violence against older women and women with disabilities.
- The Internet
Fraud Complaint Center Web site is
created by the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and the National White Collar Crime Center to
combat Internet fraud by giving consumers a convenient
way to report violations and by centralizing information about
fraud for law enforcement.
- Victimization rates as reported in the National
Crime Victimization Survey are the lowest
recorded since the survey’s creation in 1973.
- The Treasury
Department conducts the National Summit on Identity Theft,
which addresses prevention techniques, victims'
experiences, and remediation in the
government and private sector.
- In April, the Federal Victims’ Rights
Constitutional Amendment (SJR 3) is
addressed for the first time by the full U.S.
Senate. On April 27, following two-and-a-half
days of debate, SJR 3 is withdrawn for further
consideration by its co-sponsors, Senators
Kyl (R-AZ) and Feinstein (D-CA), when it becomes apparent
that the measure would not
receive a two-thirds majority vote necessary
- The Victims of Trafficking and Violence
Protection Act of 2000 provides for:
immigrants who have been victimized in the
most severe fashion with the ability to remain
longer in the United States and, in some
cases, receive Federal and state assistance;
protections for certain crime victims, including
violence against women; and a
comprehensive law for law enforcement
agencies that will enable them to pursue the
prosecution and conviction of traffickers.
- In November, the
National Victim Assistance Academy launches its Advanced Topic
with an offering of “The Ultimate Educator:
Maximizing Adult Learning Through Training
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits
total $544 million.
- The National Crime Victimization Survey results
for 2000 are released, showing that victimization rates continue
reaching a new low of 25.9 million
- There were 3047 victims killed in the terrorist attacks on
American soil on September 11, 2001: 2175 males and 648 females
the World Trade Center;
108 males, 71 females, and 5 unknown died at the Pentagon; 20 males and 20
females died in the plane crash in Somerset County, PA; and countless others
- Congress responds to the terrorist acts of September 11
with a raft of new laws, providing funding for victim assistance,
tax relief for victims, and
other accommodations and protections for victims. A new federal compensation
specifically for the victims of September 11 was created as a part of the Air
Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act. The program included many
types of damages normally available only through civil actions, such as payment
for pain and suffering, lifetime lost earnings, and loss of enjoyment of life.
To receive compensation, claimants must waive their right to bring civil action
suffered as a result of the terrorist acts.
- As a part of the package of antiterrorism
legislation called the USA Patriot Act of 2001, changes are made
to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), including
increasing the percentage of state compensation payments reimbursable by the
and allowing OVC
to fund compliance and evaluation projects.
- OVC augments state victim compensation
funding to aid victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks
in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania; offer assistance
to victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon through the
Pentagon Family Assistance Center; and establish a toll-free telephone number
web site for
victims and their immediate family members.
- The reauthorization of the Violence
Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is passed into law, and authorizes
VAWA at $3 billion through FY 2005. It reauthorizes
key programs included in the original VAWA, and makes some improvements, including:
- Authorizing grants for legal assistance of victims of
domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.
transitional housing assistance.
- Improving full faith
and credit enforcement and computerized tracking of protection
- Strengthening and refining protections for battered immigrant
- Authorizing grants for supervised visitation
and safe visitation exchange
- Expanding several areas of the key grant programs
to cover violence that
arises in dating relationships.
- The Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement
Act and Jennifer's Law maintain the annual Crime Victims Fund
set-aside for child abuse victims at $10 million,
and allows the use of Byrne grant funds for the prevention of child abuse and
neglect. Jennifer's Law authorizes $2 million per year through FY 2002 for
states to apply for grants to cover costs associated with entering complete files
unidentified crime victims into the FBI's NCIC
- Regulations for victims of trafficking are adopted, providing
a wholesale change in the way the federal government responds
to a class of crime victims,
policies and procedures at the Department of State, the Department of Health
and Human Services, and several Department of Justice agencies, including
the FBI, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, and U.S. Attorneys
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund
total $519 million.
- The National Crime Victimization Survey for 2001
continued to show a decline in crime victimization. Violent crime
property crime dropped 6%
- All 50 states, District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands,
Puerto Rico, and Guam have
established crime victim compensation
- The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators
(NAVAA) is created. With OVC support, NAVAA provides technical
to state VOCA assistance administrators.
- A "National Public Awareness and Education
Campaign" is sponsored by OVC in conjunction with Justice Solutions,
Parents of Murdered Children, and the Victims' Assistance Legal
scope and availability of victims' rights and
- OVC sponsors a series of regional roundtables
to hear first-hand from victims and survivors about their experiences
with the criminal
- The first "Helping Outreach Programs to
Expand" grants are made available to grassroots, nonprofit, community-based
victim organizations and coalitions to improve outreach and services
to victims of crime
through support of program development, networking, coalition
building, and service delivery.
- The Office for Victims of Crime celebrates its 20th anniversary
of service to crime victims and those who assist them.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee passes the Federal Victims Rights
Constitutional Amendment to ensure basic rights to victims nationwide.
- Congress makes the Office on Violence Against Women (formally
the Violence Against Women Act Office) a permanent independent
office within the Department of Justice.
- The PROTECT Act of 2003 also known as the Amber
Alert law creates a national network of AMBER (Americas
Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) to facilitate rapid law
enforcement and community response to kidnapped or abducted children.
- Congress passes the Prison Rape Elimination Act - designed
to track and address the issue of rape in correctional institutions.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline receives its one millionth
Crime Victims Rights in America: An Historical
Overview was originally compiled in 1992 by Anne Seymour
of Justice Solutions, Dan Eddy of the National Association of
Crime Victim Compensation Boards, and John Stein of the National
Organization for Victim Assistance. It is updated annually in
the Office for Victims of Crime National Crime Victims Rights
Week Resource Guide. Special thanks is extended to Steve Derene,
Director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators,
for his ongoing contributions to this Project.
|National Crime Victims' Rights
Week: Victims' Rights: America's Values
||April 1824, 2004