1997-98 Academy Text Supplement

Chapter 20

Mastering the Information Age

Enhancing Victim Information and Victim Services

When criminal and juvenile justice professionals consider the realm of possibilities offered by the Information Age, it is crucial that they also consider the many benefits technology offers that enhance the delivery of victim services. If the very core of America's victim services discipline had to be boiled down to one concept, it would quite possibly be information. And in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, information for victims can equate to life or death. If victims are not notified about the status of their case or the release of their perpetrators, or do not receive information about measures of protection, the effects can be devastating.

Technology plays a significant role in providing victims with vital information related to their cases, as well as to victim services available through law enforcement, the courts, community and institutional corrections, and community-based organizations. Yet it is important to remember that technology remains a tool to augment the "human touch" essential to helping victims reconstruct their lives in the aftermath of a crime.

In February 1998, the National Victim Center sponsored the first national Symposium on "Promising Strategies and Practices in Using Technology to Benefit Crime Victims," with support from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. A number of innovative technologies were presented that offer opportunities for collaboration among victim service, criminal and juvenile justice, and allied professional agencies, link victims more efficiently to programs and services, and provide vital information to victims in six key areas.

Information About Choices

Nobody chooses to be a victim of crime. As such, choice becomes a key tenet of a victim's recovery process.

The choices victims must consider are often related directly to statutory rights in their states. "Do I want to provide a victim impact statement at the time of sentencing?" "Do I want to be notified about the status of my offender, and/or any release hearings?" "Do I want to seek protective measures so my family and I will be safe?" "Do I want restitution?" Today, technology offers impressive solutions to better enforce victims' rights:

offenders. In addition, paroling authorities in states with electronic case management systems have the capability of including victim impact information in secure electronic files that promote victim confidentiality.

Victim notification -- one of the core rights that victims seek from justice agencies -- is now highly automated in many states. When an offender is due to be released from jail or prison, voice-automated telephone calls are made to the victim from a central Call Center that operates 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. The victim enters a PIN number on the telephone dial pad to indicate the notification has been completed, and to stop the calls. With this system, victims can also dial a toll-free number at any time to access information about the status and location of their alleged or convicted offender, or to receive information and referrals from a human operator at the Call Center. Voice automation can also be integrated with victim case management systems to generate notification letters.

Recent innovations in technology also offer greater opportunities for victim and community protection than ever before. Programs to monitor and track the location of offenders under community service utilize Global Position Systems (GPS) with wireless communications and a centralized database. Community corrections agencies determine locations that are "off limits" to offenders (such as the victim's home, or locations where children are present for offenders who prey on children), or simply the need to keep an offender within certain geographic boundaries. These rules are loaded into a portable tracking device worn by the offender (that cannot be removed), which then notifies both the offender and the central surveillance operations about violations. Notification interfaces can also be provided to victims using a telephone or pager.

Restitution management, often considered "the black hole of victims' rights," has been simplified in numerous jurisdictions and correctional agencies through the use of technology.

Access to Information

The Electronic Age has revolutionized the accessibility of information to victims of crime. No longer are boundaries and barriers created by one's geographical location, physical ability, culture or language. Innovative applications of technology have changed the ways victims can identify and retrieve information and services. These innovations range from the simple to complex. For example:

Information Sharing

When integrated management information systems within and among justice agencies incorporate victim information, both the quality of and access to such information are significantly improved. Lost paper files and misplaced case information become a thing of the past when victim-related case information is electronically attached -- with appropriate security

restrictions -- to the electronic case file of the offender as it makes its way "virtually" through the justice process. Within system-based and community-based victim service programs, basic networking in an office improves the veracity of victim-related data, as well as professionals' ability to access information when and where it is needed.

In addition, the need to interview and re-interview victims to obtain the same information for different victim service and justice agencies can be significantly decreased. Case information captured at "one source," such as law enforcement or the prosecutor, can be entered and consistently shared, eliminating the need for redundant data entry, as well as multiple contacts with victims that are unnecessary and often traumatic.

At the National Victim Center's Technology Symposium, two significant issues were raised relevant to systems integration:

Information Management

The benefits of technology when applied to information and case management are substantial. Databases can be designed to capture not only vital information about individual victims, but also helpful data about case histories, relationships with offenders, and prior receipt of services.

In addition, basic organizational management is enhanced by information systems that expand an agency's capability to design programs, secure funding, and strategically plan for the future. For example:

Information about Advocacy

Many victims today seek opportunities to get involved in victim advocacy efforts, and make a positive difference in others' lives through victim assistance, crime prevention, and public education activities. Visits to the web sites of local, state and national victim assistance organizations provide extensive information about opportunities for victim advocacy. "Electronic newsletters" contain timely resources related to current legislative and public outreach efforts. And the increased usage of "listservs" on the Internet can provide opportune information to multiple parties "at the press of a key."

Educational Information

Public awareness about, and community involvement in, victims' rights and services comprise a key goal of victim service and allied justice agencies. Many innovative applications -- from computerized graphic design software packages, to CD-ROM training, to the widespread use of the World Wide Web -- have both complemented and simplified the presentation and transfer of information to interested parties about victims' rights and services. Technology has enhanced collaboration efforts between criminal and juvenile justice agencies and victim services. For example, the web site of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections offers electronic linkages to key national victim service organizations.

The speed of the transfer of information has resulted in community awareness and public education activities that are timely, matching the speed in which response and support from parties interested in victims' rights and services are needed.

(Portions of this text were derived from the National Victim Center's Promising Strategies and Practices in Using Technology to Benefit Victims curriculum, which was written by Anne Seymour and David Beatty.)

Internet Resources

OVC's interactive homepage provides comprehensive information on victims' rights and services. Key features include:

OVC's homepage is located at <http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/>

Accessing NCJRS and OVCRC Online

NCJRS Online can be accessed in the following ways:

NCJRS World Wide Web Homepage

The homepage provides a graphical interface (a connection that displays graphics or illustrations, as well as text) to NCJRS information, as well as links to other criminal justice resources from around the world. The NCJRS Web page provides information about NCJRS and OJP agencies;

grant-funding opportunities; previews of selected new publications; key-word searching of NCJRS publications; access to the NCJRS Abstracts Data Base; the current NCJRS Catalog; and a topical index. The address for the NCJRS Homepage is <http://www.ncjrs.gov>.

NCJRS Anonymous File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

The NCJRS Anonymous FTP site allows users to quickly access and download large, complex NCJRS publications and software, whether they are in ASCII text or a binary document. These documents may include annual OJP agency program plans, which contain grant funding information. The Anonymous FTP address is <ncjrs.gov/pub/ncjrs>.

Justice Information (JUST INFO) Electronic Newsletter

This free, online newsletter is distributed to your Internet e-mail address on the 1st and 15th of each month. JUST INFO contains information concerning a wide variety of subjects, including news from all Office of Justice Programs (OJP) agencies and the Office of National Drug Control Policy; criminal justice in the news; news of international criminal justice; criminal justice resources on the Internet; federal legislation updates; criminal justice funding and program information; and announcements about new NCJRS products and services. To subscribe, send an e-mail to <listproc@ncjrs.gov>. Further instructions will be automatically forwarded.

E-Mail: Information and Help

First time users can send an e-mail message to this address: <look@ncjrs.gov>. The user will automatically receive a reply outlining the services of NCJRS. User requiring technical assistance or having specific questions on criminal and juvenile justice topics can send an e-mail to <askncjrs@ncjrs.gov>.

Partnerships Against Violence Network (PAVNET)

PAVNET Online is a searchable database containing information about hundreds of promising programs and resources, providing users with key contacts; program types; target populations; location; project startup date; evaluation information; annual budget; sources of funding; and program description. Users may go directly to the site at <www.pavnet.org>.

Other NCJRS Electronic Information Services


NCJRS has established a "fax-on-demand" service which allows the user to obtain copies of selected NCJRS documents directly through their own fax machine, using a toll-free telephone number. To access the fax-on-demand menu, call 1-800-851-3420, and follow the prompts.

Cd-rom and Online Access to the Abstracts Data Base

Users with CD-ROM capability can also obtain the NCJRS Abstracts Data Base on CD-ROM. This disc features citations and abstracts of more than 140,000 criminal justice books, research reports, journal articles, government documents, program descriptions, program evaluations, and training manuals contained in the NCJRS Research and Information Center library collection. The disc also contains search software that supports retrieval using any combination of words to search individual fields or all fields globally. The disc can be searched using "free text" methods, or in combination with the National Criminal Justice Thesaurus. The NCJRS Abstracts Data Base is also available on the NCJRS Homepage at <http://www.ncjrs.gov/>. Details are available by calling NCJRS at (800) 851-3420.

Additional Internet Sites

Federal Agencies/Resources

Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov

Community-Oriented Police Office (COPS) http://www.justice.gov/cops/

Dept. of Health and Human Services Grantsnet http://www.os.dhhs.gov/progorg/grantsnet/index.htmI

Department of Justice http://www.justice.gov/

Department of the Solicitor General http://www.gov.nb.ca/solgen/index.htm

FBI Uniform Crime Reports - Statistical Data http://www.lib.virginia.edu/socsci/crime

Federal Bureau of Prisons http://www.justice.gov/bop/bop.htmI

Federal Judicial Center http://www.fjc.gov/

Government Information Online, GovBot http://bacchus.fedworld.gov/Search_Online.html

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/home.htmI

National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.justice.gov/vawo/newhotline.htm

NCJRS Justice Information Center http://www.ncjrs.gov

National Institute of Corrections (NIC) http://www.bop.gov/nicpg/niccd.htm/

National Institute of Justice (NIJ) http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/

Nonprofit Gateway http://www.nonprofit.gov

Office of Justice Programs (OJP) http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/

Partnership Against Violence Network (PAVNET) http://www.pavnet.org

THOMAS: Federal Legislation http://thomas.loc.gov

U.S. Parole Commission http://www.justice.gov/uspc/parole.htm

Violence Against Women's Office (VAWO) http://www.justice.gov/vawo/index.htmI

National Victim-related Organizations

American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law http://www.abanet.org/child/

American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children http://child.cornell.edu/APSAC/apsac.home.htmI

Child Abuse Prevention Network http://child.cornell.edu

Childquest International http://www.childquest.org/

Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) http://www.iland.net/cops

Family Violence Prevention Fund http://www.fvpf.org/fund/index.htmI

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) http://www.gran-net.com/madd/madd.htm

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children http://www.missingkids.org/index.htmI


National Children's Advocacy Center http://fly.hiway. net/_ncacadm/

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect http://www.calib.com/nccanch


National Coalition Against Domestic Violence http://www.webmerchants.com/ncadv/default.htm

National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) http://www.achiever.com/freehmpg/ncas

National Fraud Information Center http://www.fraud.org

National Insurance Crime Bureau http:/Iwww.nicb.org

National Victim Center (NVC) http://www.nvc.org

National Victims Constitutional Amendment Network http:/Iwww.nvc.org/nvcan


National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) http://www.access.digex.net/~nova/

Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) http://www.metroguide.com/pomc/

National Criminal Justice- and Public Policy-related Associations

American Correctional Association (ACA) http://www.corrections.com/aca

American Jail Association (AJA) http://www.corrections.com/aja

American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) http://www.csg.org/appa/appa.htmI

Council of State Governments (CSG) http://www.csg.org

National Association of Counties (NACo) http://www.naco.org

National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) http://sso.org/ncja/ncja/htm

National Governors Association http://www.nga.org/

National Sheriffs Association http://www.sheriffs.org

State-level Victim Assistance Agencies

Arizona Department of Public Safety http://www.state.az.us/dps/voca/

California Criminal Justice Planning http://www.ocjp.ca.gov/index.html

Colorado Division of Criminal Justice http://www. state. co. us/gov_dir/cdps/dcj/ovp.htm

Delaware Criminal Justice Council http://www. state. de. us/govern/agencies/cjc/victim.htm

Florida Attorney General's Office - Crime Victims Services http://Iegal.firn.edu/victims/index.htmI

Ilinois Criminal Justice Information Agency http://www.icjia.org/about.html

Iowa Department of Justice http://www. state. ia. us/government/ag/cva. html

Kansas Attorney Generals Office http://lawlib.wuacc.edu/ag/victims.htmI

Kentucky Attorney General's Victims' Advocacy Office http://www.law.state.ky.us/victims/Default.htm#Top

Maryland Office of the Attorney General http://www.oag. state. md. us/Victim/rights. htm

Massachusetts Attorney Generals Office http://www.state.ma.us/ag/ago7.htm

Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety Crime Victim Services

[Program forms] http://www.state.mn.us/ebranch/corr/vsu/vsuforms.htm

Missouri Department of Public Safety http://www.dps. state. mo. us/dps/programs/grants.htm

New Hampshire Attorney General's Office http://www.state.nh.us/oag/vw.htmI

New Mexico Crime Victims Reparations Comm. http://www.state.nm.us/cvrc/

New York Attorney General's Office http://www.oag.state.ny.us/crimevt.htmI

Ohio Attorney General's Office Crime Victim Services http://www.ag.ohio.gov/crimevic/cvassist.htm

Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency http://www.pccd.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PCCD/victim/victimsl.htm

South Carolina Ombudsman http://www.netside.com/~ae4fa/ombtext.htm

Wisconsin Office of Crime Victim Services http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/derene

[Resource Directory] http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/derene/referral.htm

State Crime Victim Compensation Programs

Natl Assoc. of Crime Victim Compensation Program http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/here/compdir


Arizona Department of Public Safety http://www.state.az.us/dps/voca/compensa.htm

Arkansas Attorney General's Office Outreach Division http://www.ag.state.ar.us/division.htm#outreach

California Board of Control http://www.boc.cahwnet.gov/Victims.htm

Colorado Div. of Pubic Safety Office of Victims Programs http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/cdps/dcj/ovp.htm

Florida Attorney General's Office - Crime Victims Services http://legal.firn.edu/victims/compensation.htmI

[Application] http://legal.firn.edu/victims/vic_comp.htmI

Illinois Attorney General's Office http://www.acsp.uic.edu/~ag/victim/vcva.htm

Idaho Industrial Commission http://www.state.id.us/iic/crimevic.htm

Iowa Dept. of Justice Crime Victim Assistance Division http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/cvcform.htm

Kansas Attorney General's Office http://lawlib.wuacc.edu/ag/compensation.htmI

Kentucky Cabinet for Public Protection and Regulation http://www.state.ky.us/agencies/ppc/agency.htm#claims

Massachusetts Attorney General's Office http://www.state.ma.us/ag/ago7.htm

Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations


Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Program http://www.dfa.state.ms.us/crime/letter/letter1.htmI

Missouri Department of Labor and Industry Relations http://www.dolir.state.mo.ustwc/dolir6f.htm

New Hampshire Victim's Assistance Commission http://www.state.nh. us/oag/nhvac.html

New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Board http://www.state.nj.us/victims/

[Application; PDF format] http://www.state.nj.us/victims/vccbappl.pdf

New Mexico Crime Victims Reparations Commission http://www.state.nm.us/cvrc/

[Application; PDF format] http://www.state.nm. us/cvrc/brochure.pdf

New York Crime Victims Board http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/ils/cvb1.htmI

North Carolina Victim and Justice Services http://www.dem.dcc.state.nc.us/vjs/cvcp0.htm

Ohio Attorney General's Office Crime Victim Services http://www.ag.ohio.gov/crimevic/cvout.htm

Pennsylvania Comm. on Crime and Delinquency http://www.pccd.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PCCD/victim/victims1.htm

Rhode Island Treasury http://www.state.ri.us/treas/vc_info.htm

[Application] http://www.state.ri.us/treas/vc_appl.htm

South Carolina Office of Victim Assistance http://www.leginfo.state.sc.us/man97/stategov/state172.htmI

Tennessee Claims Administration Division http://www.state.tn.us/other/dag/compfund.htm

Utah Office of Crime Victims Reparations http://www.justice.state.ut.us/CVRrept.htm

Texas Office of Attorney General http://www.oag.state.tx.us/WEBSITE/CRIMINAL/cvc_prog.htm

[Application] http://www.oag.state.tx.us/WEBSITE/CRIMINAL/cvc_app.txt

Wisconsin Crime Victim Rights (Unofficial) http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/derene/cvc.htm

[Application: PDF; http://www.mailbag.com/users/derene/cvcapp.pdf

MS Word] http://www.mailbag.com/users/derene/cvcapp.doc

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries http://www.wa.gov/lni/workcomp/crime.htm

State Corrections, Victim Service Units, Sex Offender Registries, Etc.

Alaska Sex Offender Registry http://www.dps.state.ak.us/Sorcr/Index.asp

Florida Department of Law Enforcement http://www.fdle. state.fl. us/index. asp

[links to Sex Predator Locator and Missing Children]

Florida Dept. of Corrections Victim Assistance Page http://www.dos.state.fl.us/corrections/security/admission/victasst.html

Illinois Department of Corrections Victim Services Unit http://www.idoc.state.il.us/pubs/press/970421.htm

Indiana Sex Offender Registry http://www.ai.org/cji/index.html

Maine Department of Corrections Victim Services http://www. state. me. us/corrections/victim. htm

Maryland Dept. of Corrections Victim Notification Program http://www.dpscs. state. md. us/doc/victnot. htm

N. Car. Dept. of Corrections Victim Advocacy Services http://www.doc.state.nc.us/DAPP/victim.htm

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections http://vww.drc.ohio.gov/

Washington State Dept. of Corrections Div. of Community http://www.wa.gov/doc/dcc/dccoverview.htm#Victims

Corrections (victim/witness notification program)

Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry http://badger.state.wi.us/agencies/doc/html/sexoffender.htmI

State Coalitions and Related Resources

Idaho: MADD http://www.lesbois.com/madd/maddid~1.htm

Iowa: Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance (IOVA) http://www.netins.net/showcase/i_weaver/iova/

Michigan: Victim's Rights (State Sen. Wm. http://www.gop.senate.state.mi.us/cvr/default.htmI

Van Regenmorter)

New York: Victim Services Agency http://www.victimservices.org

North Carolina: Citizens Against Violent Crime (CAVE) http://www.webserve.net/iandi/org/cave

South Carolina: South Carolina Victim Assistance http://www.netside.com/~ae4fa/

Tennessee: Knowledge is Power (KIP) http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Victim

Texas: Texans for Equal Justice http://www.flex.net/~judge/

Texas: Texas Association Against Sexual Assault http://www.tsgweb.com/tdcaa/links.htm

Washington State: Wash. Coalition of Crime Victim http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/


Other Victim Resources

The Victim Assistance Page http://www.mnsi.net/~rmccall/homepage.htmI

Subscribe to the Victim Assistance Mailing List http://www.mnsi.net/~rmccall/vaform.htmI

Sexual Assault Information Page http://www.cs.utk.edu/~bartley/salnfoPage.htmI

National Crime Victim's Research and Treatment Center http://www.musc.edu/cvc/

APA - American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/

Trauma-related Stress http://www.apa.org/ptsd.html

Helping Children Cope http://www.apa.org/kids.html

International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies http://www.istss.com/

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) http://www.soconline.org/ASSISTANCE

Rape Recovery Help and Information http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/2402/

The Stalking Victim's Sanctuary http://www.ccon.com/stalkvictim

Security on Campus, Inc. http://www.soconline.org/

Jewish Domestic Abuse http://users.aol.com/Agunah

Jewish Women International Domestic Violence Page http://www.jewishwomen.org/awaken.htm

Dignity for Victims Everywhere (DOVE) http://www.eskimo.com/~yaqui

Justice for All http://www2.jfa.net/jfa/

The VINE Company http://www.vineco.com

Microsoft Justice Homepage http://www.microsoft.com/industry/justice/

MSU Victims and Media Project http://www.journalism.msu.edu/victmed/

Cecil Greek's Criminal Justice Page http://www.fsu.edu\~crimdo\law.htmI

Violence Policy Center http://www.vpc.org

Action Without Borders - Nonprofit Directory http://www.idealist.org

Search Yahoo for Victims' Rights http://www.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Crime/Victims_Rights/

Communities Against Violence Network (CAVNET) http://www.asksam.com/cavnet/

Rule of Law Foundation http://www.rol.org

Legal Research/Resources

Findlaw http://www.findlaw.com/

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/

State Law and Legislative Information http://lawlib.wuacc.edu/washlaw/uslaw/statelaw.htmI

News Resources

Newspapers Online http://www.newspapers.com

Am. Journalism Review Newslink http://www.newslink.org/

News Works http://www.newsworks.com

News Index http://newsindex.com

Excerpted from National Victim Center's Promising Strategies and Practices in Using Technology to Benefit Victims curriculum with significant assistance from Steve Derene, Program Manger for the Office of Crime Victim Services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

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