Sample Opinion/Editorial Column
Justice Isn't Served Until Crime Victims Are
Crime in America has a devastating impact on victims and survivors,
neighborhoods, and our society as a whole. Crime in America continually
threatens our individual and collective sense of safety and security.
And crime in America creates a universal sense of indignity through
the realization that any of us, at any time, can
be victimized by violence.
This week is the 25th anniversary of National Crime Victims' Rights
Week. It is a time to pay tribute to victims and survivors of crime
and those who selflessly serve them, and to reflect upon the many
accomplishments of the past quarter-century that have made victims' rights
and services a reality in our nation. It is a time to recognize
that justice isn't served until crime victims are.
In proclaiming the first National Crime Victims' Rights Week
in 1981 and then establishing the President's Task Force on
Victims of Crime, President Ronald W. Reagan stated, Our
commitment to criminal justice goes far deeper than our desire
to punish the guilty or to deter those considering a lawless course.
Our laws represent the collective moral voice of a free society a
voice that articulates our shared beliefs about the roles of civilized
behavior. Both the observance of Crime Victims' Week and the
creation of this Task Force are entirely consistent with principles
that lie at the heart of our nation's belief in freedom under
In 1981, there were few victims' rights that offered information,
protection, and assistance to those who were hurt by crime, and
only one state had a victims' bill of rights. Today,
there are over 32,000 federal and state statutes and 32 state-level
constitutional amendments that define and protect victims' rights,
and every state and the District of Columbia today have a victims' bill
There was no federal funding for crime victims that supported
the provision of quality victim services. Since then, the Victims
of Crime Act (VOCA), the Family Violence Prevention and
Services Act, and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
have provided billions of dollars to support a wide range of crime
victim services that address victims' needs for information,
protection, counseling, and help in exercising their rights throughout
the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
The handful of victim assistance programs established 25 years
ago has grown to include over 10,000 community- and justice system-based
programs that help victims of sexual assault, domestic violence,
stalking, drunk driving, elder abuse, child abuse, hate violence,
terrorism, identity theft, and survivors of homicide victims, among
others, including (describe victim services in your community).
While these accomplishments are, indeed, impressive, there remain
today many challenges to ensuring that crime victims are treated
with respect, recognized as key participants within our systems
of justice, and afforded services to help them in the aftermath
of crime. There are still crime victims who are not informed
of their rights, nor engaged as active participants in our justice
system. There are still crime victims who remain unaware
of a variety of supportive services that can provide help, hope
and healing in the aftermath of crime. There are still crime
victims who suffer immeasurable physical, emotional, and financial
losses, who still wait and wait to receive court-ordered restitution
payments from their perpetrators.
Justice isn't served until all crime victims are treated
with dignity and compassion by our criminal and juvenile justice
Justice isn't served until crime victims' most basic
needs are identified, and that efforts are made to meet these important
Justice isn't served until crime victims are informed of all their
rights throughout the justice process rights that empower
them, give them important choices, and offer them opportunities
to have voices and choices in their cases, and in
Justice isn't served until crime victims can be assured that
their offenders will be held accountable for their crimes.
Justice isn't served until we realize, as a community and
as a nation founded on the principles of equal rights for
all, that violence affects us all, and that victims' rights
represent the very foundation upon which our nation was created.
In (community/state), we can be bystanders to
justice, or we can recognize that justice for one person who is
hurt by crime is truly justice for us all. If you or someone
you know is a victim of crime, you can seek help. If you
or someone you know is concerned about justice and safety in our
community, you can help out by volunteering for victim assistance
In (community/state), we serve justice by serving victims
of crime. During the Silver Anniversary of National Crime Victims' Rights
Week April 10th to 16th and throughout the year,
let us remember that by helping victims of crime, we help make
our neighborhoods, communities and nation stronger and safer. And
that by serving crime victims, we are truly serving justice.
Provide a two-to-three sentence description of the author's
(or co-authors') title(s) and agency affiliation(s) at the
end of this opinion/editorial column.
|National Crime Victims' Rights
Week: Justice Isn't Served Until Crime Victims Are
||April 1016, 2005