Victims' Rights in America: A Historical
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 U.S. Virgin Islands.
- The first three victim assistance programs are created:
Aid for Victims of Crime in St. Louis, Missouri.
Area Women Against Rape in San Francisco, California.
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 assistance programs 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
and 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
- The National Organization for Women (NOW) forms a task force
to examine the problem of battering. It requests research into
the problem, along with money for battered women's shelters.
- 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 at sentencing.
- The first hotline for battered women is started by Women's
Advocates in St. Paul, Minnesota. Women's Advocates and
Haven House in Pasadena, California, establish the first shelters
for battered women.
- Nebraska and Wisconsin become the first states to abolish
the marital rape exemption.
- The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards
is established by the existing 22 state victim compensation programs
to promote the creation of a nationwide network of compensation
- 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.
- 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) arrests in cases of domestic assault, regardless
of whether a protection order has 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
- The World Society of Victimology is formed to promote research
of victims and victim assistance; advocate for victims' interests;
and advance cooperation of international, regional and local
agencies concerned with crime victims' issues.
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is founded after the
death of 13-year-old Cari 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 Kidnapping Prevention
Act of 1980.
- Wisconsin passes the first Crime Victims' Bill
- In October, the First National Day of Unity 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., thus gaining federal recognition of critical
issues facing battered women, and sees the birth of several
- The first Victim Impact Panel is sponsored by Remove Intoxicated
Drivers (RID) in Oswego County, New York.
- Ronald W. Reagan becomes the first President to proclaim National
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's 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
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 victims' rights 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
- U.S. Attorney General William French Smith establishes a Task
Force on Family Violence, which holds six public hearings across
the United States.
- U.S. Attorney General Smith issues the first Attorney General
Guidelines which outlines standards for federal victim and witness
assistance for implementation of victims' rights contained
in the Federal Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982.
- 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
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.
- In February, Crime Prevention Week is marked by a White House
ceremony with McGruff, the crime-fighting mascot of the National
Crime Prevention Council.
- 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 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
- 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 Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services is founded to involve
the faith community in violence prevention and victim assistance.
- 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 victims' rights 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 at the federal level the important needs of victims
of rape and sexual assault.
- A victim/witness notification system is established within
the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
- OVC hosts the first national symposium on child molestation.
- 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
- 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 about the Aftermath
of Crime: A Mental Health Crisis.
- The United Nations General Assembly adopts the Declaration
of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse
of Power that serves as the basis for victim service reform at
the national and local levels throughout the world.
- 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.
- OVC awards the first grants to support state victim assistance
and compensation 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 victims' rights constitutional amendments.
- Rhode Island passes a victims' rights constitutional
amendment granting victims the right to restitution, to submit
victim impact statements, and to be treated with dignity and
- 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.
- By the end of 1986, 37 states have established victim compensation
- 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 crime and victimization 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) that 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.
- Victims and advocates in Florida, frustrated by five years
of inaction by their legislature on a proposed victims' rights
constitutional amendment, 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 by 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 (NCEA), it continues to provide information
- 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 all
states raise the minimum drinking age to 21.
- Victims' rights 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 amendment passes with over 80 percent of the
- The first Indian Nations: Justice for Victims of Crime conference
is sponsored in Rapid City, South Dakota, by OVC.
- Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act 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 to cover 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 and POMC 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 and begins
a national dialogue about the implementation of rights and resources
for victims of fraud.
- The legislatures in Texas and Washington pass their respective
victims' rights constitutional amendments, which are both
ratified by voters.
- 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 George
- Congress passes the Victims of Child Abuse Act, which features
reforms to make the federal criminal justice system less traumatic
for child victims and witnesses.
- 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.
- 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 the amendment
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 are abducted.
- The National Child Search Assistance Act requires law enforcement
to enter reports of missing children and unidentified persons
into 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 U.S. Constitution.
- The Violence Against Women Act of 1991 is considered by Congress.
- 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 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, do 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 justice system.
- 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
requirements of the Federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights,
the Victims of Child Abuse Act and the Federal Victim and Witness
- The first national conference that addresses crime victims' rights
and needs in corrections is sponsored in California by OVC.
- 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 reported 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 Kidnapping Act makes unlawful
removal of a child to outside the United States a federal felony.
- 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 victims' rights 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 rules 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
by this time to prevent convicted criminals from profiting
from the proceeds of depictions of their crimes in the media
or publications. 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
- By the end of 1991, seven states have incorporated victims' rights
into their state constitutions.
- OVC provides funding to the National Victim Center for the
Civil Legal Remedies for Crime Victims Project to train victim
advocates nationwide about 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 our nation, including the fact that 683,000 women are
raped annually in the United States.
- The Association of Paroling Authorities, International (APAI)
establishes a Victim Issues Committee to examine victims' needs,
rights and services in parole processes.
- 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 strikes down a local
hate crimes ordinance in Minnesota.
- Five states Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri and
New Mexico ratify victims' rights constitutional
- Twenty-eight states pass anti-stalking laws.
- 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 assistance
and compensation programs.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $144 million.
- Wisconsin ratifies its victims' rights constitutional
amendment, bringing the total number of states with these amendments
- President Bill 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 about 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 (ACA) 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
- Six additional states pass victims' rights constitutional
amendments 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:
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which authorizes
more than $1 billion in funding for programs to combat
violence against women.
Enhanced VOCA funding provisions.
of a National Child Sex Offender Registry.
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,
location 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 a crime resulting
in multiple victimizations.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $233 million.
- Legislatures in three states Indiana, Nebraska and
North Carolina pass victims' rights constitutional
amendments that will be placed on the ballot in
- The National Victims' Constitutional Amendment Network
(NVCAN) proposes the first draft of language for a federal 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 (NVAA) in Washington, D.C. Supported by OVC, the university-based
Academy provides an academically-credited 40-hour curriculum
on victimology, victims' rights and myriad other topics.
- The U.S. Department of Justice issues Attorney General Guidelines
for 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 bipartisan support.
- Both presidential candidates and the Attorney General endorse
the concept of a Federal Victims' Rights Constitutional
- Eight states ratify the passage of victims' rights
constitutional amendments raising the total number of
such 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 law.
- President Clinton signs the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act, providing one million dollars to strengthen
antiterrorism efforts, make restitution mandatory in violent
crime cases, and expand compensation and assistance services
for victims of terrorism both at home and abroad, including
victims in the military.
- OVC uses its new authority under the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act to provide substantial financial assistance
to the victims and survivors of the bombing of the Alfred P.
Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
- 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. The Act
made restitution in Federal cases mandatory, regardless of
the defendant's ability to pay. It also requires federal
courts to order restitution to victims of fraud.
- 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 Drug-induced Rape Prevention Act is enacted to address
the emerging issue of drug-facilitated rape and sexual assault.
- The Office of 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 justice system.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $363 million.
- In January, a federal victims' rights constitutional
amendment is re-introduced in the opening days of the 105th Congress
with strong bipartisan support.
- In February, OVC convenes the first National Symposium on
Victims of Federal Crimes. Coordinated by the National Organization
for Victim Assistance (NOVA), 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 U.S. Department of Justice, 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
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 victims' rights constitutional amendment.
While not endorsing specific language, Attorney General Janet
Reno testifies in support of federal constitutional rights for
- 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 representatives of 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 federal victims' rights constitutional 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.
- Congress enacts a federal anti-stalking law.
- 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
- 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 assistance
and compensation programs is hosted by the National Association
of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB) and the National
Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) with support from OVC.
VOCA representatives from all 50 states and every territory are
- During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, OVC officially
launches its homepage, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc, providing Internet
access to its comprehensive resources about victims' rights
- 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 bipartisan version of the
federal victims' rights constitutional 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 approval margin 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.
- The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 are 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.
- Congress enacts the Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment
Act of 1998, providing for numerous sentencing enhancements and
other initiatives addressing sex crimes against children, including
crimes facilitated by the use of interstate facilities and the
- Congress passes the Crime Victims with Disabilities Act of
1998, 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 (NCVS) by 2000.
- In October, the Identity Theft and Deterrence Act of 1998
is signed into law. 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 enforcement agencies.
- OVC provides funding to the U.S. Department of State to support
the development of a Victim Assistance Specialist position to
improve the quality and coordination of services provided to
U.S. citizens who become victimized abroad.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total a record $985
- 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 is officially re-titled a Bill to Control
Crime by Requiring Mandatory Victim Restitution. Components of
the proposed bill include establishment of procedures regarding
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
- 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) increase 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 (NVAA) is held
in June 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.
- Congress passes a new national drunk driving limit of
0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) with the strong support of Mothers
Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other victim advocacy organizations, as
well as leading highway safety, health, medical, law enforcement and insurance
groups. The new law, passed with strong bipartisan support, requires states
to pass 0.08 per se intoxication laws or lose a portion of
their annual federal highway funding.
- In October, 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.
Authorizes $80 million a year for rape prevention
and education grants.
Expands federal stalking statutes to include stalking
on the Internet.
Authorizes $875 million over five years for battered
Provides $25 million in 2001 for transitional housing
Provides funding totaling $25 million to address
violence against older women and women with disabilities.
- The Internet Fraud Complaint Center Web site, www.ifccfbi.gov,
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 crimes for law enforcement.
- Victimization rates as reported in the National Crime Victimization
Survey (NCVS) 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 for approval.
- In October, Congress passes the Trafficking Victims Protection
Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386) to combat trafficking in persons
and to protect such victims by providing for: immigrants who
have been victimized in the most severe fashion 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 enables them to pursue the prosecution and conviction
of traffickers. Congress authorizes the U.S. Attorney General
to make grants to states, Indian tribes, units of local government,
and nonprofit, nongovernmental victim services organizations
to provide services to alien victims trafficked into the United
- In November, the National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA)
launches its Advanced Topic Series 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 (NCVS) results for
2000 are released, showing that victimization rates continue
to drop, reaching a new low of 25.9 million victims.
- There were 3,047 victims killed in the terrorist attacks on
American soil on September 11, 2001: 2,175 males and 648 females
died at the World Trade Center; 108 males, 71 females, and five
unknown died at the Pentagon; 20 males and 20 females died in
the plane crash in Somerset County, Pennsylvania; and countless
others were injured by these terrorist attacks.
- 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 federal victim compensation program was created
specifically for the victims of September 11 as 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 for damages
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 federal government
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
and secure Web site for victims and their immediate family members.
- The Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act and Jennifer's
Law increases the annual Crime Victims Fund set-aside for child
abuse victims from $10 million to a maximum of $20 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 of unidentified
crime victims into the FBI's NCIC database.
- Regulations for victims of trafficking are adopted, providing
a wholesale change in the way the federal government responds
to a class of crime victims, affecting policies and procedures
at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, and several U.S. Department of Justice agencies,
including the FBI, the Immigration and Naturalization Service,
and U.S. Attorneys' Offices.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $519 million.
- In January, OVC releases final program guidelines and an accompanying
application kit for the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance
Program for Terrorism and Mass Violence Crimes, which provides
funding to compensate and assist victims of terrorism and mass
violence that occur within and outside the United States.
- The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) continues to
show a decline in crime victimization. Violent crime victimization
dropped 10 percent and property crime dropped six percent.
- The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators
(NAVAA) is created. With OVC support, NAVAA provides technical
assistance and training to state VOCA assistance administrators.
- OVC sponsors a National Public Awareness and Education Campaign
in conjunction with Justice Solutions, Parents Of Murdered Children
and the Victims' Assistance Legal Organization to promote
the scope and availability of victims' rights and services
- OVC sponsors a series of national regional roundtables to
hear first-hand from victims and survivors about their experiences
with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
- OVC makes available the first Helping Outreach Programs to
Expand grants to grassroots, nonprofit, community-based victim
organizations and coalitions to improve outreach and services
to victims of crime through the support of program development,
networking, coalition building and service delivery.
- Congress appropriates approximately $20 million to fund services
to trafficking victims, including: shelter, medical and mental
health care, legal assistance, interpretation, and advocacy.
- By the end of 2002, all 50 states, the District of Columbia,
U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam have established crime
victim compensation programs.
- The Federal Crime Victims Fund deposits total $361 million.
- OVC 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 Office within the Office of Justice
Programs) a permanent independent office within the U.S. Department
- Congress passes the PROTECT Act of 2003 also known
as the Amber Alert law which creates a national
network of AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency
Response) to facilitate rapid law enforcement and community response
to kidnapped or abducted children.
- The American Society of Victimology (ASV) was established
at the first American Symposium on Victimology held in Kansas
City, Kansas. The ASV serves as a forum for academicians and
practitioners on all topics related to victimology in partnership
with the World Society of Victimology.
- In July, Congress passes the Prison Rape Elimination Act designed
to track and address the issue of rape in correctional institutions
and develop national standards aimed at reducing prison rape.
- Congress establishes January as National Stalking Awareness
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline receives its one millionth
- In October, the United States Postal Service releases the
Stop Family Violence postage stamp to raise money for domestic
violence prevention programs.
- In November, Congress appropriates $22 million for the U.S.
Department of Defense's Family Advocacy Program, $900,000
of which is to be used for the National Domestic Violence Hotline
Awareness, Intervention, and Prevention Campaign in the military
- In November, Congress passes the Fair and Accurate Credit
Transactions Act providing new protections against identity theft,
as well as provisions to help victims of identity theft recover
their financial losses.
- In December, Congress passes the Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act. Along with reauthorizing programs created
under the first TVPA, this legislation includes provisions aimed
at strengthening prevention efforts and increasing the prosecution
of offenders; increases protections for trafficking victims by
enabling victims between the ages of 15 and 18 to obtain special
visas (T-visas); simplifying the process by which victims are
certified eligible for benefits; and allowing benefits and services
to be available for victims' family members who are legally
allowed to come to the United States. In addition, the legislation
creates a civil cause of action for victims of forced labor or
- In September 2004, $834 million is deposited into the Federal
Crime Victims Fund, the second highest level since its inception.
- The U.S. Department of Defense Task Force on Care for Victims
of Sexual Assault releases its report and recommendations for
preventing sexual assault in the military and providing a sensitive
response to victims. The recommendations include establishing
a single office within the U.S. Department of Defense to handle
sexual assault matters; launching an information campaign to
inform personnel about services available to victims; and convening
a summit to update the definition of sexual assault and address
victim privacy concerns within the military context.
- Congress passes legislation defining aggravated identity theft
and establishing penalty enhancements for the crime, i.e., offenders
who steal another person's identity information in connection
with the commission of other specified felonies (i.e., crimes
relating to immigration, nationality, and citizenship and various
forms of fraud) would be sentenced to an additional two years
in prison. The legislation also prohibits the court from ordering
an offender's sentence for identity theft to run concurrently
with a sentence imposed on the same offender for any other crime.
- In September, the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department
of Justice, convenes a two-day symposium in Washington, D.C.,
to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Violence Against
Women Act (VAWA).
- October 12th marks the 20th anniversary of the enactment of
the Victims of Crime Act and the Crime Victims Fund that has
collected $6 billion for services to crime victims since its
- The U.S. Congress passes the Justice for All Act of 2004,
which provides substantive rights for crime victims and mechanisms
to enforce them, and authorizes $155 million in funding over
the next five years for victim assistance programs at the federal
and state level. This omnibus crime legislation enacts the Debbie
Smith Backlog Grant Program that provides $755 million to test
the backlog of over 300,000 rape kits and other crime scene evidence
in our nation's crime labs; and authorizes more than $500
million for programs to improve the capacity of crime labs to
conduct DNA analysis, reduce backlogs, train examiners, and support
sexual assault forensic examiner programs. It also includes the
Kirk Bloodsworth Post-conviction DNA Testing Program that authorizes
$25 million over five years to help states pay the costs of post-conviction
DNA testing, among other provisions.
|National Crime Victims' Rights
Week: Justice Isn't Served Until Crime Victims Are
||April 1016, 2005