1997-98 Academy Text Supplement
The Federal, Indian, and Military Justice Systems: Victims' Rights and Assistance Federal Law Enforcement
In December of 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a Bulletin entitled Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 1996. Included in the important data in this publication was the following information about federal law enforcement agencies and officials:
(Reaves, B. (1997, December). "Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 1996," NCJ-164617. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
Victimization of Federal Law Enforcement Officers
The Uniform Crime Reports Division of the FBI collects statistical data annually on the victimization of law enforcement officers. According to these data:
Victimization of Federal Correctional Officers
The FBI data do not include assaults on Bureau of Prisons staff. However, BJS collects these data as part of its Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities. The victimization rate of federal correctional officers is the following:
National Sex Offender Registry Assistance Program
As a result of recent federal legislation, the establishment of an effective national sex offender registry that is capable of providing instant access to data on sex offender location on an interstate basis has become a national priority. The development of the National Registry for Sexual Offenders involves a coordinated effort between:
The permanent National Sex Offender Registry File will be developed as part of the FBI's NCIC-2000 project and will include a fingerprint and photo (mugshot) image of the registered sex offender. The permanent system is expected to be in place by mid-1999. Pending the establishment of a permanent system, an interim national pointer system has been established by the FBI that flags criminal history records of persons identified by states as being registered as sex offenders.
As of March 1998, the FBI indicates that 23 states are providing data to the interim system and that an estimated 31,590 records are currently being flagged. However, all states operate some type of sex offender registry at this time. In order for the national system to permit law enforcement agencies in each state to have information on offenders initially released in other states, or traveling throughout the nation, individual state registries must be automated, accurate, and interfaced with the national system.
As a result, in March, 1998, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) within the U.S. Department of Justice announced the establishment of the National Sex Offender Registry Assistance Program (NSOR-AP). The program is a component of the BJS National Criminal History Improvement Program. It is designed to help states ensure that state sex offender registries identify, collect, and properly disseminate relevant information that is consistent, accurate, complete, and up-to-date.
Additionally, the program will help states establish appropriate interfaces with the FBI's national system so that state registry information on sex offenders can be tracked from one jurisdiction to another. The program will assist states in meeting the relevant requirements of current federal legislation including: the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act; Megan's Law; and the Pam Lychner Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act (42 U.S.C. 14071, 14072), as amended by Section 115 of the general provisions of Title I of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and
Related Appropriations Act of 1998, P.L. 105-119) and applicable state standards. The 1998 appropriation includes $25 million to support the national sex offender registry. (Bureau of Justice Statistics. (1998, March). "National Sex Offender Registry Assistance Program", NCJ-169273. Fiscal Year 1998 Program Announcement. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
Recent Federal Initiatives
On June 25, 1996, President Clinton announced his support for a federal victims' rights constitutional amendment. Immediately following this announcement, the President directed the Attorney General to take a number of significant steps to improve the treatment of victims of crime within the federal criminal justice system. An overview of some of the important training, technical assistance, and demonstration programs that have been initiated in the past few years are highlighted below.
National Symposium on Victims of Federal Crime
In 1997, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) sponsored the first National Symposium on Victims of Federal Crime. The symposium brought together for the first time over 800 professionals that serve crime victims from a number of federal agencies for a four-day training program that assisted federal criminal justice professionals in achieving the President's goal of holding the federal system "to a higher standard of victims' rights than ever before."
Update on Victim Services in Indian Country
In 1996, OVC modified the Victim Assistance in Indian Country (VAIC) program to recognize tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes. This change allows for directly funding tribes, instead of the past practice of funding states, which then make awards to tribes for establishing "on-reservation" victim assistance programs.
(Office for Victims of Crime. (February 1997). OVC Advocate. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
Federal Bureau of Investigation Victim-Witness Program
In 1996, a significant development in federal law enforcement agencies' response to crime victims was the FBI's efforts to review and expand its entire victim-witness program. Among the new initiatives, the FBI implemented a comprehensive victim assistance program at the Headquarters level. As part of this new program, the FBI created a unit for victim-witness assistance, staffed the unit with a Unit Chief and six supporting positions, and assigned Victim-Witness Coordinators in each of the 56 FBI field offices nationwide.
Federal Outreach for Victims of Child Exploitation
Federal law enforcement has stepped up its efforts to respond to child victims through multi-disciplinary responses. In 1995 the Attorney General established the Federal Agency Task Force for Missing and Exploited Children:
Support for Oklahoma City Bombing Victims
Since the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, the victim assistance community on the local, state, and federal levels has provided tremendous support to the hundreds of victims and survivors. The February, 1997 OVC Advocate provided an overview of the many cooperative efforts on the federal level that have been undertaken to provide support and outreach:
Looking Toward the Future
In 1996, the Attorney General established the Deputy Attorney General's Victims Rights Working Group to assist in bringing the entire Department into greater compliance with victims' rights legislation and the Attorney General's Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. The Working Group is composed of high level policy representatives from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and all Department of Justice litigating divisions that handle criminal prosecutions. OVC is providing assistance to the Working Group. In May of 1997, the Acting Deputy Attorney General required each agency to develop a plan to raise the level of victim services within their agencies. OVC assisted the agencies in the development of the plans which have been submitted to the Deputy Attorney General and are being implemented by the agencies.