Chapter 19 Collaboration for Victims' Rights and Services
The ultimate success of victims' rights and services is highly dependent on
involvement and input from a wide variety of individuals and entities whose
foci include public safety. Over the past three decades, numerous collaborative
efforts and partnerships have effected significant, positive changes in the
ways victims are viewed, treated, and served in the United States. This chapter
will explore the concept of collaboration, along with recommended strategies
for successful collaborative efforts to enhance public safety and improve victim
Upon completion of this chapter, students will understand the following concepts:
- Types of working relationships.
- Challenges to successful working relationships.
- Moving beyond "traditional" stakeholders for collaborative initiatives.
- The community as a partner in collaboration.
- The relationships among national, state, and local victim services.
- A checklist for successful collaborative efforts.
Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention
to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved.
And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world
safe for diversity. --John F. Kennedy, 1963
While the strength of America's victims' rights discipline is greatly derived
from the commitment of victims who have been hurt by crime, and by victim
advocates who serve them, many significant successes have been achieved through
collaboration with other individuals and entities who share a concern for
public safety. There is, indeed, strength in numbers, and when diverse interests
converge for an agenda of victims' rights and services, the possibilities
In the early days of the victims' rights movement, there was often a pervading
sense of "us against them," that is, victims and service providers
struggling for dignity and acknowledgment against a variety of barriers: offenders'
rights taking precedence over victims' rights; lack of understanding within
communities about victim suffering and trauma; a justice system that was not, in the early 1970s and 1980s, designed to
protect the interests of victims nor involve them in key processes that affected
their lives; limited laws that protected victims' rights and interests; and
limited financial and human resources to support victim-related initiatives,
to name a few. The pioneers of victims' rights looked to similar movements
for guidance in how to build both an agenda and a constituency.
The lessons learned from women who fought for the right to vote and civil
rights activists who struggled for equality proved to be invaluable. While
many elements contributed to the success of these historical efforts, one
common theme emerged: The ability to collaborate and find supporters who shared
a common vision and goals was critical to success. Perhaps most important
was to reach beyond the core constituencies affected by injustice (in these
cases, women who could not vote and persons of color who were treated as second-class
citizens) and build a powerful, diverse collaborative network of allies.
Also similar to earlier initiatives that strived for equal justice, crime
victims had a significant weapon in their struggle for dignity, respect, and
recognition: the power of the personal story. With hundreds of thousands
of individuals in America personally hurt by crime, there was a core constituency
of "real people with real pain" to whom many ordinary people could
relate: the family whose grandparents were killed in a fiery drunk driving
crash (which was not even considered a crime thirty years ago); the rape victim
who was blamed and shamed for the violent assault committed against her; the
mother whose teenage son was molested by his soccer coach who found limited
protection under the law; and the countless families whose children were abducted,
often found murdered, and sometimes never recovered at all. Some of the most
crucial "networks" that resulted were victims helping victims by
providing mutual support and validation. The network of victims and their
collaboration with caring and concerned professionals joined to create an
effective social activism that has come to change the face of how justice
and public safety are viewed in America.
Types of Working Relationships
There are many phrases utilized in the victim assistance community to describe
efforts that bring people together with a common cause. George Keiser of the
National Institute of Corrections (1998) describes these terms and their meanings:
Some recurring words are often used in a very cavalier fashion to describe
types of working relationships. It is important to be clear about the depth
of involvement contained in the meaning of these various words, and then to
use the appropriate word for the relevant circumstances.
These words include cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and partnership.
Cooperation does not require much depth of relationship from the parties involved.
Typically, a couple of people identify how what they are doing in their organizations
would benefit each other. They agree to share what they do, but are not required
to do anything differently. The activities engaged in are very informal. No
resources are transferred, and the life of those involved goes on much as
it has. This maybe the initial point of developing relationships between the
involved organizations. A key element for initiating cooperation is personal
Like cooperation, the depth of involvement between organizations is not required
to be great. The relationship tends to be more definitive with specific protocols
or conventions commonly being established. The business of the various organizations
does not change significantly. The number of people involved in the process
is increased, and the participants are more cognizant of how their independent
activities can be integrated for common benefit, or can influence the work
of another organization. This level of working together requires more discipline
and more formal structure in following the established protocols. The importance
of integrity of the various participants and their activities becomes more
Collaboration introduces the concept of organizations coming together to create
something new, commonly a new process. Generally, the organizations bring
a business they already know well and identify how, by joint actions, they
can redesign a process to their mutual benefit. There must not only be trust
and integrity as a foundation, but the parties now need to understand the
perspectives of the other collaborators' self interest(s). This understanding
suggests a greater depth of involvement between organizations. It is not merely
exchanging information, but developing a sense of awareness for whom the other
parties are, what motivates them, and what they need out of working together.
Unlike cooperation or coordination, for the first time something new is being
developed through the relationship of organizations. Even with the increased
intensity of involvement, the various organizations retain their independent
Partnership is the bringing together of individuals or organizations to create
a new entity. This may be the extreme extension of collaboration. The depth
of involvement is reflected by a commitment referred to as ownership. No longer
are there independent organizations agreeing to work together on some initiative
as long as it is convenient. Nor is this a group of organizations buying into
someone else's plan. With a partnership, there is an agreement to create something
new which, through joint ownership, requires that the partners make it succeed.
One measure of success is whether the partnership makes all the partners successful
Keiser also clarifies the nature of working relationships based on the following
- Characteristics of the relationship.
- Nature of the relationship.
- Resource investment.
- Control over resources.
- Authority to make decisions.
The chart below provides an overview of characteristics of working relationships
on a continuum ranging from coordination to partnership.
Types of Working Relationships
Characteristics of Relationship
Trust and Reliability
Integrity and Discipline
Understanding and Selflessness
Commitment and Ownership
Nature of Relationship
Formal, Legal Incorporation
As few as two people
Several, maybe horizontal organizational slice
Several, many horizontal and vertical organizational slices
New or refined organization
Control over Resource
Unchanged original organizations
Modified original organizations
Shared or transfer to new unit
Authority to Make Decisions
Retained by original organizations
Retained by original organizations
Transfer to new unit
Create new structure
Reciprocal Forbearance: A Framework for Working Relationships
In Reciprocal Forbearance: How to Collaborate and Be Successful, Iowa's
Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services Director Gerald
Hinzman describes the environment in which public safety professionals work
Who are our customers? Are they the people we help or are they the people
who pay the tax bill? Who are our internal customers within the governmental
system with whom we should be working and collaborating? Do we see those who
need our services as the poor and needy, or do we see them as burdens on society?
If we look at a group or family of people, do we all see them through the
same set of eyes? What do human services agencies see? What do public service
agencies see? Do private non-profits see this differently that publicly funded
agencies? Does it or should it make a difference how we see our customers
in order for us to collaborate?
This is what reciprocal forbearance is all about! We must understand that
we have different missions and that we may have different philosophies, but
within the framework of that understanding is the structure to collaborate
to design programs that will have an effect on all the issues affecting the
target populations that we jointly serve. Reciprocal forbearance means that
we understand what makes us different from those who look like us, those who
are not like us, and those we're not sure about, and we tolerate our differences
so that we can jointly design a better future for our children and our children's
children. . . .
In order to collaborate, we must remain open-minded. This is something else
that bureaucratic agencies do not do well. Open-mindedness is something that
also needs to be learned. The following illustration helps guide our thoughts
There are basically four ways that we can react to another person presenting
a thought or expressing an idea to us:
If we are close-minded, we are only able to do number one and number four
above. If we are open-minded, we can and should process all four options so
that we can make wise choices.
- We like or respect the person or agency that is putting forth the
idea, and we like the thought or idea that they are espousing.
- We like or respect the person or agency that is putting forth the idea,
but we don't like or question the wisdom of the thought or idea.
- We don't respect the person or the agency that puts forth the message,
but we agree that the thought or idea has merit.
- We don't respect the agency or person, and we don't think there is
much merit in the thought.
Now answering the original question as to whether or not we all have to see
our customers through the same set of eyes, the answer is "no."
We all do need to see our missions as compatible. As we redefine the critical
issues, do capacity building, and collaborate, we have the flexibility to
continue on our own mission and see more clearly how we are all part of the
Challenges to Successful Working Relationships
Whether victim advocates cooperate, coordinate, collaborate, or partner with
allied professionals, volunteers, and communities, there are ten common challenges
that can hinder the success of these important working relationships:
- Lack of a shared vision or mission. When people work together toward
a common goal, it should be clearly understood, easily communicated, and shared
by all involved parties. If a vision or mission is pre-established by an individual
or a small faction of a larger group, it may not achieve "ownership"
that is needed by the whole group to ensure success. It is crucial to take
time and process through a shared vision or mission with all stakeholders
and establish goals and objectives that are supported by all.
- Lack of agreement about the problem or issue to be addressed. While
diversity is one of the essential elements of collaborative efforts, it also
results in differing and often unique perspectives about the basic issue that
is being addressed. In developing good working relationships, stakeholders
must seek a consensus that respects different views and opinions.
- Lack of incremental successes on the pathway to an ultimate goal.
Too often, people working together aim for one definitive goal that, in their
view, connotes success. It is necessary to determine incremental, smaller
successes that can help stakeholders ensure that they are headed in the right
direction, and evaluate possible alternatives along the way to the ultimate
goal if warranted.
- Egos. The concept of "turf wars" is not foreign to most
victim advocates. When such battles expand to incorporate even more stakeholders
(and more egos), the results can be highly damaging to collaborative efforts.
All interested parties must be willing to breakdown turf barriers and "leave
their egos at the door" in their mutual attempts to reach a common goal.
- Lack of diversity among group members working toward a common goal.
If it is true that "great minds think alike," it is likely that
"different minds think even better." One of the greatest strengths
of professionals and volunteers involved in public safety issues is their
diversity--by gender, age, culture, sexual orientation, profession, socioeconomic
status, and geography. The many different viewpoints and perspectives of victim
advocates and allied professionals are a key asset to collaborative efforts
and, without them, such efforts are doomed to failure.
- Not having the "right players" at the table. In many public
safety initiatives, often the victims and their representatives are missing
from collaboration forums. It is helpful to adopt a "global" view
of the problem or issue that is being addressed in terms of all the
stakeholders who are affected: victims, offenders, the community, system professionals,
public policy makers, and the like. If a person or group of people is affected
by a problem, it is absolutely critical that they be involved in developing
- Lack of understanding and implementation of change management techniques.
Most working relationships seek change: in justice processes, service delivery,
and community involvement, to cite a few examples. If the road to a solution
does not address the specific changes that will occur as a result and institutionalize
these changes for the future, the outcomes will not be successful in the long
run. Managing change is one of the most difficult, yet most important, elements
of collaborative efforts.
- Lack of resources. If time, level of commitment, and human or financial
resources are not adequate to achieve a shared goal, failure is likely. Considerable
attention should be paid to what type of resources are needed, at what point,
by whom, and for how long, throughout the collaborative process.
- Lack of measures to evaluate success. As stakeholders in collaborative
processes begin their joint efforts, evaluation must be a key tenet of all
their activities. Stakeholders' vision, goals, and objectives should all be
measurable in concrete terms, and their plan should be flexible enough to
accommodate changes that result from evaluative data that show a need to change
- Lack of understanding about victim trauma, rights, and needs. While
most collaborative efforts related to improving public and personal safety
are well intentioned, some lack an overall understanding of how victims are
affected by crime. It is important to incorporate training about victims'
rights, needs, trauma, and sensitivity into any collaborative initiative that
addresses public safety issues. The involvement of crime victims as active
participants or advisors to guide the planning and implementation of such
initiatives is also helpful.
Beyond Traditional Collaboration
In issues affecting crime and victimization, there are several conventional
stakeholders: crime victims, service providers, and juvenile and criminal
justice officials and agencies (from law enforcement through the appellate
process). Today there are new and exciting partnerships forming between victims,
their allies, and disciplines whose foci include issues relevant to crime
and victimization. Victim advocates need to closely evaluate exactly who
resides in the orbit around victimization. These partnerships, while surprising
in some cases, offer new, important alliances in the fight against crime and
efforts to aid victims. They are identified below:
- Members of the clergy are often professionals to whom victims turn
following the crisis of victimization. As such, clergy members are important
partners in any effort that seeks to help victims cope with trauma and loss.
For example, clergy members were key partners in the Colorado-Oklahoma Resource
Council (CORC) that was created to assist and support victims who attended the
Oklahoma City bombing/murder trials in Denver, Colorado in 1998.
- Mental health and public health professionals and agencies possess
expertise and resources that can assist victims of crime. When violence was
cited as a major public health concern by the Surgeon General, a variety of
partnerships emerged that combined the knowledge and practical experience of
health professionals with professionals in public safety and victim assistance.
In 1998, the Centers for Disease Control provided a five-year grant to a consortium
of mental health and victimology researchers and practitioners to form the National
Violence Against Women Prevention Research Consortium. The Consortium fosters
interdisciplinary research and resources among researchers, practitioners, criminal
justice agencies, and public health officials.
- Public policy makers have historically had a significant role in effecting
changes in laws that define and protect victims' rights. In recent years, state
legislators, state-level executive branch officials, and local elected officials
have worked closely with crime victims and advocates to forge public policy
agendas dedicated to victims' rights and public protection. In 1998, the Council
of State Governments Northeast Region (with support from OVC) sponsored a regional
symposium with representatives from ten states, including victims, service providers,
legislators, and justice professionals, to develop public policy recommendations
and action plans for their respective states, specific to improving victims'
rights and services.
- The news media wield tremendous influence over public policy and program
development in the disciplines of victim assistance and public safety. Timely
information about trends in crime and victimization, model programs, and responsive
public policy is available to concerned citizens, elected officials, justice
practitioners and victim advocates through the news media. In a number of communities,
informal partnerships have emerged through regular "bench-bar-press"
sessions, in which the news media and justice professionals (which can include
law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and victim advocates)
meet to discuss media coverage of trials and public safety issues. These sessions
often result in collaborative efforts to increase responsible news media coverage
and createavenues through which the media have access to timely, accurate information
for their stories.
- Researchers and practitioners in the field of substance abuse have
much to contribute to the discipline of victimology. Many crimes are committed
while offenders are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and many
victims (particularly of domestic violence) live in environments where substance
abuse is pervasive. Numerous research studies have shown that some victims use
alcohol, prescription drugs, and even illegal drugs following their victimization
to cope with trauma. Unfortunately, alcohol and other drugs are the stress reducer
of choice for professionals involved in high-stress occupations, such as victim
services. Collaborative efforts focusing on substance abuse treatment, education
about the devastating effects of alcohol and other drugs (particularly related
to crime and victimization), and drug abuse prevention offer meaningful insights
to the field of victim services.
These five examples are indicative of the types of natural allies who can
join together to improve victims' rights and services. Collaborative efforts
such as these can be developed at the local, state, and national levels as
well as across these jurisdictions. If an individual or entity is in a position
to further the cause of victims' rights and the provision of quality victim
services, then they have a rightful and meaningful role in collaborative networks
SIGNIFICANT FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR COLLABORATION AND INTEGRATED SERVICES
The Office for Victims of Crime is currently sponsoring and funding an ongoing
demonstration project, Victim Services 2000 (VS 2000). The greater
Denver, Colorado area, the state of Vermont, and Medina County, Ohio are all
developing and implementing an integrated victim service system to improve
the range, quality, and accessibility of services for crime victims. The goal
of the grants is to support the development of an integrated victim service
system that will provide an on-going vehicle for planning and implementing
comprehensive, coordinated, and accessible services to the victims of crime.
The sites are intended to be mentors for other communities, providing on and
off site technical assistance.
Denver VS 2000 is in its third year. Its leadership group is well established,
and twenty-three agencies are VS 2000 members, representing both governmental
and non-profit agencies in the Denver metropolitan area. Based on the results
of various community and victim surveys and focus groups, Denver has been
involved in addressing major issue areas/goals:
- Technology. Apply relevant technologies to improve the delivery of
services to victims by developing an online Resource Directory; a Technical
Assistance Center on the VS 2000 Web site for all technical assistance materials,
and an online case management system for use by member agencies.
- Model Network Development. Develop policies and procedures to implement
a case management system across member agencies; train agency personnel on the
case management system; develop a memorandum of understanding for joint agency
outreachinitiatives, and establish Community Advocates in several communities
with high underserved populations. The Advocates will inform victims of their
rights and the services available and to be a link between victims, service
providers and the criminal justice system.
- Training and Education. Institutionalize training in all aspects of
delivery of service to victims of crime by developing a cross training plan
within victim service agencies, and standardized training for professional groups
and schools, including spiritual communities, law enforcement and law schools.
Medina County, Ohio is beginning its second year; Vermont is completing its
first year. Both have completed their planning and assessment process from
which they have identified issues and goals similar to Denver's. Each of the
three sites has developed slightly different systems tailored to their respective
jurisdiction to provide on-going planning and implementation.
The Community as a Partner in Collaboration
A theory that is gaining much credence across America is that when neighborhoods
or communities are given the opportunity to be involved in measures
to prevent crime, intervene with at-risk youth, and assist victims, they will
take advantage of that opportunity. It makes great sense that people who are
most affected by a problem are the ones who have the greatest stake in developing
Joseph Lehman, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections in the state
of Washington, said in 1997 that "the community must own justice."
This sense of ownership not only of the problems related to justice, but also
to potential solutions, has provided a strong foundation in many communities
that have involved their members in collaborative measures to combat crime
and help victims. The recent trend toward community policing, community prosecution,
community courts, and community justice has resulted in strong partnerships
among justice practitioners, community members, and neighborhood groups. Victim
service providers can have a significant role in such collaborative endeavors.
To do so, they need to develop contacts with allied community groups and professionals
(where applicable) and seek avenues of involvement.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance Bulletin
"Working as Partners With Community Groups" points out
. . . [W]orking in partnership with community members and groups is an effective
and productive way to address a community's problems and needs. This effectiveness
can translate into less crime, less fear of crime, and a greater sense of
community power and cohesion. Law enforcement officers have long known that
they cannot successfully deal alone with the twin issues of responding to
crime, and correcting the conditions that generate crime. Partnerships to
prevent crime can get something done about an immediate problem, build a base
for dealing with future problems, gain new resources for action, and increase
or sustain the community's social and economic health. They are among the
most promising assets in the ongoing struggle against violence and other crimes"
(National Crime Prevention Council 1994).
This Bulletin also offers an excellent example of how partners in
public safety are identified:
Potential partners will come from among those groups directly affected by
the current problem, those who must deal with its aftermath or consequences,
and those who would benefit if the problem did not exist. For example, if
graffiti are the problem, those directly affected include business owners
and home owners, other area residents, and highway and park departments. Those
who must deal with the consequences include insurers, residents, traffic control
personnel, elected officials, and law enforcement. People who would benefit
if the problem did not exist include realtors, the chamber of commerce, neighborhood
residents, and school and youth programs that could use funds otherwise spent
on cleanups. All these people are potential partners (Ibid.).
When this approach to forming partnerships is applied to "who is affected
by crime and victimization," the list of potential partnerships is seemingly
endless. Literally everybody has a stake in individual and community
safety and, as such, everybody has a similar stake in ensuring that people
who are hurt by crime have comprehensive, quality services to assist them.
The Relationship of Victim Services: National, State, and
Many important issues and common interests unite the various jurisdictions
of victims' rights and services. When this discipline is closely examined
in its entirety, there are both clear distinctions as well as significant
connections among national, state, and local victim service providers and
NATIONAL LEVEL: FEDERAL AGENCIES
The federal government has provided outstanding leadership to the field of
victim services. The Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice,
infuses victims' rights and services into the bureaus and offices under its
control. These entities often join in cooperative agreements that combine
both human and financial resources to benefit crime victims and those who
Most notable is the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) which, among other
contributions, provides support for the National Victim Assistance Academy.
OVC manages the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding, which provides support
for federal, state, and local victim services as well as victim compensation
at the federal and state levels. These funds come from convicted federal offenders,
not from taxpayer dollars. Through its discretionary dollars, OVC funds extensive
training and technical assistance initiatives that have had a far-reaching
effect on improving the scope and quality of victim services across the nation.
In addition, OVC has a Resource Center and Training and Technical Assistance
Center that strengthens the capabilities of victim service providers, criminal
and juvenile justice agencies, and allied professionals to provide comprehensive
Other OJP offices that provide guidance and resources to support victims'
rights and services are the following:
- Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), which makes direct discretionary
grant awards to states, units of local government, and private nonprofit groups
for the support of state and local criminal justice system initiatives, including
victim assistance services. Examples of BJA initiatives include funding for
judicial training through the National Judicial College, support for Chicago's
Family Violence Intervention Program, and trial security expenses for the capital
murder trials of the murderers of James Byrd, Jr. in 1999.
- Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which supports initiatives that
improve the collection and automated maintenance of criminal history information,
data on crime and victimization, and statistics on crime and justice.
- Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Office, whose programs often include
supportive services, timely interventions, and assistance for victims and communities
affected by crime, as well as numerous crime prevention initiatives that are
accomplished through partnerships between law enforcement and neighborhoods
- Corrections Program Office (CPO), which has collaborated with OVC
on improving rights and services for victims in the postsentencing phases of
their cases within institutional corrections.
- Drug Courts Program Office, which administers the discretionary drug
court grant program to plan, establish, or enhance state and local drug courts
that provide specialized treatment and rehabilitation for certain nonviolent
substance abusing offenders.
- Executive Office of Weed and Seed (EOWS), which administers a discretionary
grant program that supports multidisciplinary community-based initiatives for
law enforcement, crime prevention, victim assistance, and community revitalization.
- National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the "research arm"
of the Justice Department which supports research, program evaluation, and demonstration
projects. Some of NIJ's initiatives have provided significant insights into
child abuse, fraud, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and homicide.
NIJ also emphasizes the importance of partnerships between researchers and practitioners
to improve the nation's response to crime and victimization and crime prevention.
- Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention (OJJDP), which
provides leadership and resources to improve America's juvenile justice system.
Its victim-related initiatives include programs that address missing and exploited
children and child protection issues.
- Violence Against Women Grants Office (VAWGO), which provides leadership
and funding for federal, state, and local programs dedicated to assisting victims
of family violence and sexual assault. Special initiatives sponsored by VAWGO
focus on encouraging arrest policies in domestic violence cases, rural domestic
violence and child abuse enforcement assistance, and discretionary grants to
address violence against women in Indian Country and rural jurisdictions.
In addition, other federal agencies have sponsored victim-related initiatives
in research, evaluation, program development, training, and technical assistance.
Examples include the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Education,
National Institute of Mental Health, and Health and Human Services. OVC has
also sponsored cooperative programs that benefitvictims with agencies such
as the Department of State, Department of the Treasury, and all branches of
the armed forces. National training conferences sponsored every other year
by OVC bring together federal victim assistance personnel to share information,
resources, and program development ideas that enhance victims' rights and
NATIONAL LEVEL: NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
In 1999, nearly fifty national organizations exist whose mission and goals
include the enhancement of victims' rights and services. The Victims' Assistance
Legal Organization, National Center for Victims of Crime, National Organization
for Victim Assistance, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center,
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Parents of Murdered Children, National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,
Family Violence Prevention Fund, National Coalition Against Sexual Assault,
and Concerns of Police Survivors (among others) focus primarily on improving
rights and services for victims of crime. These organizations offer resources
that include organizational and program development, information and referral,
training and technical assistance, research and evaluation, public policy
development and implementation, and community outreach and public education.
Allied professional organizations, such as the National Criminal Justice
Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National District
Attorneys Association, National Judicial College, National Council of Juvenile
and Family Court Judges, Association of State Correctional Administrators,
American Correctional Association, American Probation and Parole Association,
and Association of Paroling Authorities, International, incorporate victims'
rights and concerns into their public policy, training and technical assistance,
and research initiatives. Most of these membership associations now have Victim
Committees and Advisory Boards that keep them informed of and involved in
key collaborative issues related to victims' rights and services. They have
a significant role in keeping their constituencies aware of the need for,
and current trends in, victims' rights and services, and they work closely
with national, state, and local victim assistance programs to enhance victim
assistance efforts in their respective areas of interest.
STATE LEVEL: VICTIM ASSISTANCE
Every state and U.S. territory has agencies that oversee planning and distribution
of federal funds authorized by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Violence Against
Women Act (VAWA), Byrne Memorial Funds, and Department of Health and Human
Services (specific to domestic violence, child protection, and child abuse).
In some states, these roles fall under the jurisdiction of a single agency.
Every state and territory also has a victim compensation program that oversees
the remuneration of victims for losses suffered as a result of violent crime,
which is derived from a combination of VOCA funding; state funding; and fines,
fees and assessments paid by convicted offenders.
In 1999, over thirty-five states also have state-level coalitions that are
dedicated to improving victims' rights and services through collaboration
with victim assistance, criminal and juvenile justice, and allied professional
entities. State-level efforts include research, training andtechnical assistance,
information and referral, and collaborative observances of commemorative weeks
such as National Crime Victims' Rights Week in April, and National Domestic
Violence Awareness Month in October. State coalition efforts have also contributed
to public policy development and implementation that benefits victims, which
has resulted in the passage of over 30,000 state-level statutes that define
and protect victims' rights.
Similar to national justice and allied professional associations, many state-level
associations have initiated victim committees and advisory boards that incorporate
victims' rights and concerns as a core component of their public safety, community
protection, and crime prevention initiatives. In addition, some state-level
agencies have incorporated victims' rights and services into their overall
missions. For example, the California Youth Authority (CYA) established an
Office of Prevention and Victim Services in 1992. CYA has infused victims'
concerns into both the agency and work site level, and has led the nation
in developing proactive programs that provide victim notification, restitution,
protection for victims, and the nationally recognized "Impact of Crime
on Victims" program for youthful offenders that help them recognize the
effects of their delinquent actions on their victims, their own families,
their communities, and themselves.
LOCAL LEVEL: VICTIM ASSISTANCE
It is estimated that in 1999, over 9,000 victim assistance organizations operate
in both the public and private sectors.
Public sector programs work primarily within the parameters of the criminal
and juvenile justice systems to promote victims' rights and provide direct
victim services. In some jurisdictions such as Memphis, Tennessee, the public
and private sectors have joined forces in collaborative efforts through the
Shelby County Victim Assistance Center (which receives both private and government
funding and provides a wide range of services to victims of all types of crime).
Private sector programs comprise what is widely recognized and respected
as the "grass roots" of the victims' rights discipline. Thousands
of nonprofit organizations provide support and comprehensive services to victims
through crisis intervention, victim support groups, advocacy for victims'
rights within the criminal and juvenile justice systems, training and technical
assistance, and information and referral. These groups have increasingly forged
important alliances with system-based justice professionals and civic leaders
to maintain victims' rights as a public policy priority in communities large
and small, urban and rural, across the nation.
Collaborating for Victims' Rights and Services
There are a number of ways that crime victims, service providers, and allied
professionals work together at the local, state, and national levels, as follows:
- Fiduciary relationships primarily involve financial support from government
sources for victim services from the federal level to the states and localities,
and from states to local jurisdictions.
- Public policy initiatives have led to the passage of over 30,000 federal
and state victims' rights statutes. Often, good ideas for laws cross over jurisdictional
boundaries. For example, when California passed the nation's first anti-stalking
statute in 1990, the other forty-nine states followed suit within eighteen months.
The strength of America's grass roots victims movement has also been instrumental
in organizing to support key federal initiatives, most notably the proposed
federal constitutional amendment, and the successful passage of the Victims
of Crime Act of 1984 and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994.
- Implementation of victims' rights helps ensure that no matter where
a victim lives or what type of crime he or she has been hurt by, help is available.
With over 9,000 victim assistance programs operating in the public and private
sectors, and advocacy services provided by numerous national organizations,
collaborative efforts have strengthened crime victims' ability to understand
and seek implementation of their rights.
- Research initiatives are increasingly involving partnerships between
researchers and victim assistance practitioners. National and regional public
opinion surveys, research of specific victim populations, and focus groups have
been conducted by national, state, and local practitioners, with the results
guiding the development of innovative and effective approaches to victim services.
- Training and technical assistance, with substantial leadership provided
by OVC, to develop curricula and training tools help increase professionals'
and volunteers' knowledge of victims' rights and services. Standardized training
programs have been developed for law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecutors,
institutional and community corrections, and juvenile justice professionals
as well as for allied professionals such as mental health and public health
practitioners, the clergy, and educators.
- Information and referral services constantly cross jurisdictional
boundaries to provide timely resources and referrals to victims in every region
of the nation. The use of the Internet, national toll-free telephone numbers,
and the U.S. Department of Justice-sponsored Resource Centers have greatly enhanced
the ability to provide information and referrals to crime victims and concerned
Collaboration: A Checklist for Success
While this chapter has offered a broad overview of the core elements of successful
collaboration, they can be easily summarized in the following twenty points:
- The problem(s) or issue(s) of concern is clearly defined.
- All potential stakeholders and key leaders/change agents have been invited
to participate in the collaborative initiative:
- People who live with the problem.
- People who have power to change the problem.
- People who have the technical expertise to address the problem.
- Diversity among stakeholders is sought and respected as a key tenet of
- A mission or vision statement that identifies the critical problems or
issues and possible collaborative solutions is developed and shared by all
- The problem or issue is analyzed to develop theories about why it is occurring
and what can be done to change the situation.
- Possible strategies or solutions are brainstormed among key stakeholders,
with consensus built around the most sound approaches to problem solving or
- The consensus strategy is divided into strategic goals and measurable objectives.
- Goals and objectives are assigned an order of priority, with a sense of
urgency given to the highest priority issues.
- Responsibilities for action are developed and assigned to the relevant
stakeholders, with clear understanding of the interrelationships among goals
- A time schedule for completion of goals and objectives is developed that
includes tasks, persons responsible, deliverables, and deadlines. This should
be flexible, depending upon ongoing evaluation results (see # 14).
- If necessary, memoranda of understanding and/or interagency agreements
are drafted to clarify roles, responsibilities, and interrelationships needed
to accomplish the goals and objectives.
- A list of resources needed for success is developed, which may include
research, evaluation, training, technical assistance, marketing, funding,
public policy development, direct outreach to core constituents, public education,
media relations, and technology enhancements.
- Stakeholders involved in the collaborative effort assume responsibility
(often jointly) for developing and/or providing resources that have been identified
as critical to success.
- Significant attention is paid to evaluation measures that can delineate
success or failure. Flexible approaches are in place to allow for revision
of original goals and objectives, based upon evaluation results (this is an
- Methods of ongoing communications and regular meetings for status reviews
- A commitment to managing the change that results from the collaborative
initiative is institutionalized, with consensus on how stakeholders will each
educate their professional peers and volunteers about the positive aspects
of the change and help them adjust to new policies, procedures, and/or programs
- Small successes and achievements are celebrated, and barriers to success
are viewed as surmountable challenges.
- An assessment of the overall collaborative effort is conducted, with participation
of all key stakeholders.
- Recommendations for revising or "fine-tuning" ongoing strategies
for success, based upon the overall evaluation, are developed.
- Efforts are made to identify other initiatives that could benefit from
the collaborative efforts of the key stakeholders involved in this initiative.
The Power of Collaboration
The power inherent in positive collaborative efforts cannot be underestimated.
Perhaps the most appropriate perspective on this power is offered by Margaret
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Her observations are a fitting description of, and tribute to, the many collaborative
efforts that have resulted in positive change for victims of crime since the
inception of the victims' rights discipline.
As discussed throughout this chapter, collaboration can occur on many various
levels: national, state, and local, involving both private and governmental
entities. With respect to successful implementation of and advocacy for the
legal rights of crime victims, it is crucial for victim advocates to understand
the necessity for (and all too often dearth of) collaboration between, among,
and sometimes within criminal and juvenile justice system agencies. A recent
study on the management and collection of court-ordered criminal restitution,
a remedy traditionally minimized as, at best, a longshot for victims, showed
that when jurisdictions employed effective and system-wide cooperative efforts,
great improvements could be made in the management and collection of restitution
(Burnley and Murray 1997). The following are key factors identified in implementing
- Victim involvement.
- Effective communication and cooperation among the criminal justice agencies
- Clear definition and delineation of roles.
- Efficient and streamlined coordination of agency tasks.
- Routine and regular flow of information and data.
- Participation and accountability by all parties involved in the process.
Although many justice system officials still treat restitution as an "uncollectible
debt," increased systemic collaboration and cooperation have enabled
some jurisdictions to make vast improvements to the collection of court-ordered
restitution. While the above-mentioned studyfocuses exclusively on restitution,
the principles involved are equally applicable to any and all legal rights
of crime victims which are implemented through the traditional criminal justice
Another powerful example of victim collaboration, initially involving the
efforts of private individuals, is the landmark emergence of Mothers Against
Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980. A young mother whose daughter was killed by
a repeat drunk driving offender in California found solace and support from
another young Maryland mother whose infant daughter had been turned into a
quadriplegic (and eventually died) as a result of a fiery drunk driving crash.
The shock of their personal tragedies were magnified by the shock of discovering
that their respective state laws offered few remedies and absolutely no victims'
rights in their cases. Working out of their homes, Candy Lightner and Cindy
Lamb formed MADD. This initial partnership between two grieving mothers provided
the foundation for what has grown to be one of America's most influential
and respected social agendas: to prevent drunk driving and provide rights
and services for its victims.
Early MADD activists recall a seemingly uphill struggle to change attitudes
about drunk driving which was, at that point, one of the most common crimes
in the nation. Initial attention from the news media spread the word about
their infant movement; slowly, concerned policy makers and insurance companies
joined their cause, followed by highway safety advocates and civic organizations.
The community-by-community, state-by-state effort slowly grew into a national
initiative, which culminated in MADD's introduction of the "21 drinking
age bill" in Congress in 1984.
A victim advocate involved in this effort recalls the collaborative strategy
We flew to Washington, D.C. planning to conduct a rally at the U.S. Capitol
for our "Save Our Students" (SOS) campaign. Once on-site, I remember
going through the telephone book, identifying folks who might support our
efforts by looking under "associations" in the Yellow Pages. In
just a few days, we lined up over 50 national groups--from the Junior League
to major insurance companies--to support SOS. As our efforts gathered steam,
Congress did as well, garnering support for legislation with incentives and
penalties to encourage states to raise their drinking age to 21, which would
ultimately save thousands of lives a year.
Through daily meetings of key stakeholders and lots of media coverage, our
little rally turned into a major public policy success when then-Secretary
of Transportation Elizabeth Dole called us late the night before our event.
The White House placed its solid support behind "21" and the rest,
as they say, is history! In just five weeks, with local and state MADD chapters
working hand-in-hand with the Washington, D.C.-based team, National MADD staff
and its new allies, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed
by Congress. It was, indeed, collaboration at its finest.
The lessons of this early collaborative initiative are clear. When the power
of the personal story of victims is combined with grass roots organizing and
public policy leadership, the end result can be a powerful, collaborative
avalanche of widespread support for positive change. Close relationships and
commitment among national, state, and local entities representing both the
public and private sectors are essential and valuable elements.
Collaboration for Victims' Rights and Services Self-Examination
1. Name the four "types of working relationships."
2. Describe in detail one challenge to successful working relationships.
3. Identify one stakeholder group that you consider to be "beyond traditional
collaboration," and briefly describe why/how they can be engaged and
involved in victim issues.
4. Describe one way that victim service providers and allied professionals
work together at the local, state, and national levels.
5. Identify three core elements of successful collaboration from this chapter's
"checklist for success."
NVAA Learning Exercise
Chapter 19: Collaboration
COLLABORATION SMALL GROUP EXERCISE
Think for a moment about "the universe of the victim" --including
the criminal and juvenile justice systems, system- and community-based victim
assistance programs, allied professionals, and the community itself. Please
identify the ONE agency/entity (but don't "name names!") that you
find difficult to engage in collaborative initiatives that improve victims'
rights and services:
Now, list three reasons why this agency/entity is difficult to "bring
to the table" in providing a continuum of care for victims' rights and
Each small group will provide a one minute report on its findings.
DYNAMICS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
PARTICIPANT/GROUP WORK SHEET
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCY:___________________________________
1. What is this agency's principal role in assisting victims?
2. What are five things this agency should do to facilitate this role?
3. What is your group's recommendation for one suggestion to improve this agency's response to victims of crime?
DYNAMICS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM (2001)
1. Divide participants into seven groups.
2. Provide each group with a piece of paper that describes one of the key agencies/players in the criminal justice system (attached).
3. Give them nine minutes to complete their worksheet as a group.
4. Facilitate "round-robin" group reports, allowing up to one minute for each question for each group.
|Chapter 19 Collaboration for Victims' Rights and Services