Violent crime in America has become a national crisis and, as a result, America's mental health, health care, and public safety systems are seriously challenged. Recent surveys have helped create new understanding of the scope of crime and its impact. The mental health impact of violent crime can be seen in the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women with a history of violent victimization and individuals who have lost a family member to homicide. This chapter will discuss scope and impact of crime in America, the foundations of the rule of law in this country, the four somewhat diverse movements that pre-dated the victims' rights discipline and set the stage for its emergence, and the history of the victims' rights discipline in five distinct stages. In addition, the emergence of new organizations dedicated to assisting crime victims is described, as well as the challenges facing the field today.
Upon completion of this chapter, students will understand the following concepts:
The first set of statistics summarized below are from the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted annually by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Each year, BJS interviews 100,000 people aged twelve or older about crimes they experienced during the previous six months. The survey includes both crimes reported and not reported to police. Because the BJS survey includes these unreported crimes, there are differences between these data and the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, the second set of statistics listed below. The Uniform Crime Report is based on reports of crime from 16,000 police agencies.
NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY (NCVS)
FBI'S UNIFORM CRIME REPORT
According to Webster's New World Dictionary, "disaster" is defined as "any happening that causes great harm or damage, serious or sudden misfortune, or calamity." Using this definition, the current level of violence in America is clearly a health, public safety, and mental health disaster. Despite recent reductions in criminal violence, crime still harms too many children and adults; it also affects America's families, America's communities, and the nation at large.
Scope of Crime
Fear of crime continues to imperil the social fabric of America. Earlier studies expressed the concerns of Americans in several ways:
More recent studies continue to point out Americans' fear of crime. In 1997, 64 percent of Gallup poll respondents reported they believed there was more crime than in the previous year (BJS 1998b), despite the significant reductions in crime recorded nationally during the late 1990s. Even as crime drops, the public perception of crime's magnitude increases.
Information about the magnitude of the violent crime problem suggests that Americans' concerns about crime are not misplaced. Data from The National Women's Study, a National Institute of Drug Abuse-funded survey of a national probability sample of 4,008 adult American women, indicated the following violent occurrences during a one-year period:
These estimates of rape are much higher than those obtained in the National Crime Victimization Survey because The National Women's Study used screening questions that were specifically designed to measure rape and other types of sexual assault (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour 1992).
Americans are vulnerable to criminal victimizations throughout their lifespan. For example, The National Women's Study reported the frequency level of violence experienced in women's lives:
A National Institute of Justice-funded national study of the indirect effects of criminal homicide (The National Homicide Study) found that 1.58% of the sample, or an estimated 2.8 million adults in America, had lost an immediate family member to criminal homicide (Amick-McMullan, Kilpatrick, and Resnick 1991).
The National Homicide Study was conducted in 1987, preceding an increase in the homicide rate. Therefore, these estimates are extremely conservative as to the number of Americans indirectly affected by homicide between 1988 and 1990. Noting the statistics above indicating a decline in homicide since 1993, these figures may have validity today.
Millions of American men, women, and children are victims of criminal violence each year. Particularly for rape and sexual assault, official statistics substantially underestimate the extent of the problem. Information from nonretrospective studies is particularly poor about violence directed at children under twelve, adolescents, and/or men.
Cost of Crime
In February 1996, the National Institute of Justice released the first comprehensive report on the cost of victimization. As a result of the data gathered from criminal justice agencies, medical professionals, hospitals, insurance companies, mental health professionals, crime victim compensation programs, and crime victims, significant information is available about the immediate, short-term, and long-term financial impact of victimization. Highlights of the study's findings include the following:
In addition, the Nation Center for Juvenile Justice reported findings in 1999 that demonstrate that allowing just one youth to leave high school for a life of crime and drug abuse costs society approximately $2 million (NCJJ September 1999).
THE PHYSICAL IMPACT OF VIOLENCE
Increasingly, attention is being focused upon the impact of violent crime on our nation's health care system. In August 1997, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a bulletin entitled Violence-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments, which presented findings from a study using the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) program of violence-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in 1994. This study gives a specific view of the physical impact of violence. These findings, as reported in the bulletin, include the following:
THE IMPACT OF VIOLENCE ON MENTAL HEALTH
The mental health impact of criminal violence is substantial, but is not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A history of violence substantially increases the risk for a host of other mental health disorders and problems including depression, suicide attempts, anxiety disorders, alcohol, and other drug abuse problems (Burnam et al. 1988; Kilpatrick et al. 1985; Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour 1992; Kilpatrick and Resnick 1993; Saunders et al. 1992). Illustrative are these data from The National Women's Study comparing the rates of PTSD, major depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among rape victims and nonvictims of crime (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour 1992).
There is also evidence that violence affects the longer-term physical health as well as the mental health of its victims. At least one study found that health care utilization and health problems increased following violent attacks (Koss, Woodruff, and Koss 1990).
THE IMPACT OF VIOLENCE ON WORLD OUTLOOK
Not only does being a victim of violence affect physical and mental health; it also influences how one views the world. Many violence victims are no longer able to see the world as a safe place, as a just place, or as a place with meaning. Violence often breeds a cynicism and distrust that unravel the very fabric of social life.
Violence and fear of violence have taken away Americans' freedom. A majority of adult respondents interviewed in America Speaks Out reported that they were at least "a little fearful" of being attacked or robbed (Kilpatrick, Seymour, and Boyle 1991):
Fear of crime restricts freedom of people to go where they want, when they want. Because of the threat of crime, many people in our nation restrict their behavior and/or have purchased some manner of protective device.
In America Speaks Out (Ibid.) respondents reported that:
Fear of crime and fear of crime-related restrictions on lifestyle and behavior take a much heavier toll on women than on men.
Crime and fear of crime also place a heavy burden on the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. The America Speaks Out survey of 1,000 adults asked if respondents had ever been a victim of a violent crime involving the use or threat of force (Ibid.):
This research information suggests racial/ethnic minorities are more likely than whites to have been violent crime victims. Their fear of crime is higher than whites, and their fear of crime causes them to place more restrictions on their lifestyles than whites.
The next sections of this chapter will "step back in time" and review the origin of the attitudinal changes about victimization that are exemplified in the recent surveys noted above. In order to provide a framework for understanding these attitudinal changes, a short overview of the historical origins of the rule of law in this country is provided below.
The Development of the Concept of Law
A complete and accurate understanding of the concepts inherent in our American criminal law system can only be attained by a review of its history, philosophy, and development. Modern criminal law is the result of a long evolution of laws that have attempted to deal with and define deviant behavior in society.
CODE OF HAMMURABI
The Code of Hammurabi is considered one of the first known attempts to establish a written code of conduct. King Hammurabi ruled Babylon at approximately 2000 B.C. He was the sixth king of the First Dynasty of Babylonia for about 55 years. During that period of time, Babylon was a commercial center for most of the known and civilized world. Since its fortune lay in trade and other business ventures, the Code of Hammurabi provided a basis for order and certainty essential for commerce. The Code established rules regarding theft, sexual relationships, interpersonal violence, and other issues. It was intended to replace blood feuds with a system sanctioned by the state.
The Code of Hammurabi was divided into five sections:
The code established certain obligations and objectives for the citizens of Babylon to follow. These included:
Of noteworthy importance in the code was its concern for the rights of victims. In reality, this code may have been the first "victims' rights statute" in history. Unfortunately, as will be seen, society began to neglect victims in its rush to punish the offender, with the result that victims' rights would not resurface until the present century (Gordon 1957).
It is unclear when the fifth book of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy, was written, and indeed, as "oral history," the very first version was not written at all. Scholars believe that the first five chapters of the Old Testament that record Mosaic Law were transcribed during the Jews' Exile in Babylon during the 5th and 6th century B.C. (Romer 1988, 111). In any event, Deuteronomy instructs that with respect to certain crimes, the penalty shall be ". . . eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" (Chapter 19, Verse 15). Because the rabbinic tradition taught that this penalty was not to be interpreted literally and that what the Biblical instruction really meant was that a victim of an assault or other crime should receive from the criminal the value of an eye, or the value of a foot, arguably Deuteronomy presents the first more formalized scheme of victim restitution since the Code of Hammurabi.
EARLY ROMAN LAW
Another important influence in the development of American law was early Roman law. Roman law was derived from the Twelve Tables, written about 450 B.C. These tables were a collection of basic rules relating to conduct of family, religious and economic life. Early Roman legions conquered England in the middle of the first century. Roman law, customs, and language were forced upon the English people during the next three centuries of Roman rule.
In the 6th century A.D., Emperor Justinian I codified what had evolved as Roman law over several hundred years into a set of writings. The Justinian Code, as these writings became known, distinguished between two major types of laws:
It contained elements of both our civil and criminal law and influenced Western legal theory into the Middle Ages.
THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN ENGLAND
Prior to the Norman conquest of 1066 A.D., the legal system in England was very decentralized. There was little written law except for crimes against society. As a society, England had forgotten or moved away from the teaching of the Code of Hammurabi, and crimes during this period were again viewed as personal wrongs. Compensation was paid to the victim or his/her family for the offense. If the perpetrator failed to make payments, the victim's family could seek revenge resulting in a blood feud. For the most part during this period, criminal law was designed to provide equity to what was considered a private dispute.
The Norman Conquest under William the Conqueror established royal administrators who rode circuit to render justice. These royal judges would use local custom and rules of conduct as a guide in rendering their judgments. This system, known as stare decisis (Latin for the phrase "to stand by the decided law"), would have far reaching effects on modern American criminal law.
The next major development in the history of law was the acknowledgment of the existence of Common Law. Early English Common Law forms the basis for much of our present day legal system. Common Law is a traditional body of then unwritten legal precedents created by court decisions (as distinguished from statutory law written by a Congress or other legislative body) during the Middle Ages in England. During this period of time when cases were heard, judges would start their deliberations from past decisions that were as closely related as possible to the case under consideration. In the eleventh century, King Edward the Confessor proclaimed that Common Law was the law of the land. Court decisions were finally recorded and made available to lawyers who could then use them to plead their cases. This concept is one of the most important aspects of today's modern American law.
THE MAGNA CARTA AND U.S. CONSTITUTION
The Magna Carta of England and the U.S. Constitution both stand as great documents and moments in the history of American law. The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215 and was later interpreted to grant basic liberties to all British citizens. The U.S. Constitution established certain individual rights, defined the power of the federal government, and--among other things--limited punishment for violation of laws.
American law combines both Common Law and written statutes.
An offshoot of written law, administrative law is comprised of rules and regulations adopted by governmental agencies at the federal, state and local levels. Many governmental agencies are investedwith the power to pass regulations that prohibit certain types of conduct. Some of these regulations provide for fines rather than imprisonment of the offender.
Constitutional law. Constitutional law is at the foundation of American criminal law. The Constitution does not define new crimes (the only crime defined in the Constitution is treason); rather, it sets limits on other laws as they apply to individuals. An example of this principle is the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that flag burning, which was proscribed as criminal conduct by a state statute, is protected under the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
The Purpose of Law
Max Weber, an acclaimed sociologist during the early twentieth century, stated that the primary purpose of law is to regulate the flow of human interaction (Rheinstein 1954).
Dr. Weber, who is famous for a number of modern day concepts including the concept of bureaucracy, believed that laws make the behavior of others predictable (Wallace, Roberson, and Steckler 1994). Thus, one of the accepted purposes of law is to support social order.
Laws also serve other purposes including:
Banishing retribution occurs because laws replace the power of individuals to carry out revenge against the perpetrator. The law shifts the burden and responsibility of making the victim whole from the individual to the state. Laws reflect public opinion by defining the boundaries between current concepts of illegal behavior and allowing individuals to guide their conduct according to these written requirements. Some argue that laws deter potential law violators. The threat of punishment is sufficient to prevent individuals from committing the prohibited act. Punishment of offenders occurs when laws grant the government the ability or power to sanction wrongdoers. Finally, socioeconomic control occurs when laws support and maintain the social and economic systems they serve.
Roscoe Pound, one of the great legal scholars of modern times, believed that law was a type of social engineering (1968). The law was a tool that met the needs of men and women living and working together in society. Pound believed that law must change with the advent of new ideas. He articulated a series of Jural Postulates that were propositions setting forth the basis of all law because they reflected the shared needs of society.
It is against this legal framework and amidst tremendous societal as well as political upheaval and transition that the victims' movement began to take hold in this country nearly three decades ago.
History and Overview of the Victims' Rights Discipline
Today's view of violent crime and victimization is quite different than thirty years ago. The nation's emotional and legal reaction to criminals has changed dramatically. Why have our personal and political responses changed during this period? The remaining portion of this chapter will focus on the historicaldevelopment of the victims' rights discipline and the reasons for the public's more recently altered perceptions of criminals and crime statistics.
In the last three decades, the victims' rights discipline has emerged as a powerful source of social, legal, and political change. There are four somewhat diverse movements that pre-dated the victims' rights discipline and set the stage for its emergence. The history of the victims' rights discipline can be divided into five distinct stages along with corresponding legal changes, victim involvement and services, changes in service providers' attitudes, and new theoretical concepts. This description is--by necessity--not inclusive of all historical facts; rather, it is included to acquaint the reader with the zeitgeist, or spirit, of each stage of the victims' rights discipline.
There were four movements that strategically opened the way for the victims' rights discipline:
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement changed this country's view of civil disobedience, clarified that all Americans have rights under the U.S. Constitution, and focused on forging change through nonviolent means. Even though this country has had a long history of civil disobedience dating back to the Boston Tea Party and continued by 19th century literary figures (Thoreau, Whitman, etc.), this approach diminished as a result of 20th century patriotism engendered by two world wars.
Civil disobedience was not new in 1963, but re-emerged and was applied to a new group: American minorities. The Civil Rights Movement enabled society's disenfranchised minorities to exert power over American governmental and private institutions and demand equal rights and equal access to society's opportunities.
THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT
The Anti-war Movement focused on America's propensity towards violence, the influence and predilections of governmental/military bureaucracy, and expressed a distrust in authority that is still evident today. This movement, through its well orchestrated marches in cities across America, showed that grassroots politics could influence and even overpower establishment politics. More importantly, the movement raised questions not only about governmental decision-making but also about the moral implications of these decisions.
This movement increasingly empowered citizens and even young people to speak out and take a public stand for what they believed was right. It was a crucial step in a new awakening to the power of grassroots organization and influence.
THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
The Women's Movement focused on American family values, traditional male/female roles, sexism in bureaucracy (including, very importantly, the criminal justice system), and economic discrepancies between men and women. This has been considered the most significant precursor of the victims' movement (Karmen 1990). The victimization of women and the bureaucratic facilitation of this violence in all areas of society were clarified and politicized. The long overdue fact that women were entitled to equal social, political, and economic opportunity and power became a national focus. A direct result of this increase in women's power and attention to women's issues was the formation of rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters in the early 1970s.
THE "LAW AND ORDER" MOVEMENT
The "Law and Order" Movement predated the victims' movement, but an alliance developed between its supporters and some victim advocates ten years later to press for stiffer punishment of offenders. Since the emergence of this movement in the 1960s, there has been a focus upon increasing the rights of the common person to achieve parity with the rights of the criminal. However, supporters of this movement from all segments of society insisted the common citizen could manage his or her own protection, and "justice" should be accomplished without expanding governmental assistance and monetary support (Karmen 1990). Supporters felt that criminals should be punished more; potential victims should be more careful; and victims, once victimized, should be self-sufficient.
By the early 1980s, a shift developed placing more emphasis on victims' needs. The support for increased offender accountability and a "back to the basics" constitutional approach produced new emphasis on restitution and individual rights. The "Law and Order" Movement has been particularly influential in the fourth and fifth stages of the victims' rights discipline.
The following section gives an overview outline of the stages of the victims' rights discipline with critical events in the history of this movement.
Historical Stages of the Victims' Rights Discipline
Stage One: Response to Crime (1972-1976)
Stage Two: Polarization and Unstable Funding (1977-1981)
Stage Three: Public Awareness (1982-1986)
Stage Four: Expanding Legislative Agenda (1987-1991)
Stage Five: Emerging Professionalism and Advancing Advocacy (1992-Present)
STAGE ONE: RESPONSE TO CRIME (1972-1976)
Starting in the early 1960s, crime began to steadily rise in the United States, reaching its highest point in 1981. By the early 1970s, the effect on American life was evident. In response, the victims' rights movement began on multiple fronts (Young 1986).
In 1965, the first crime victims' compensation program was established in California. However, the major strides of this period were accomplished by the energy of volunteers, many of whom were crime victims themselves and, in many cases, had suffered revictimization due to less than adequate assistance and services within the criminal justice system.
In 1972, volunteers founded the first three victim assistance programs, all of which still exist today:
Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, many state and federal commissions were established to study crime and its consequences. Following these efforts, the federal government took two significant steps to address the problem: the creation of the first government-sponsored victimization survey (National Crime Survey 1972 [renamed the National Crime Victimization Survey in 1990]) and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) (Karmen 1990).
By 1974, the first battered women's shelter had also been established in Denver, CO. These first service programs were operated by volunteers using their own funds and donations. Their major focus was to provide victim support utilizing the approach of self-help groups. Their goals quickly expanded to target insensitive and unfair treatment of victims by the criminal justice system (Young 1986).
Fortunately, several key leaders within the criminal justice system recognized the problems of victims and witnesses and responded (NCVC 1994):
In 1975, Frank Carrington's book, The Victims, was published, promoting "the proposition that the victim's current sorry status in the criminal justice system need not be so and that something can andmust be done to enhance the rights of the victim." That same year, LEAA called together leading victim activists to discuss methods of increasing victims' rights.
During this first stage, mental health providers had limited involvement at the grassroots level. However, practitioners working with victims of sexual assault recognized characteristics common to many victims.
By the late 1970s, mental health providers became more aware of victim trauma. Research began to show the efficacy of peer support groups; some research indicated that these groups were much more helpful than professionals, often because these professionals had little training in the grieving process and crisis therapy.
As specialized service providers gained new insights into victimization, mental health practitioners began to acknowledge their lack of expertise, and began to listen to advocates and victims. For example, the description of the "battered woman syndrome" was published and provided a theoretical framework for working with victims of domestic violence.
Another very important "movement" that supported the general crime victims' movement was the increased focus upon child abuse and neglect. The "child protection" movement was initially comprised primarily of physicians, social workers, and public-sector personnel concerned with child maltreatment. The attention of child advocates and the Congress to the work of C. Henry Kempe, (the "battered child syndrome," 1962) led to creation of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1974).
STAGE TWO: POLARIZATION AND UNSTABLE FUNDING (1977-1981)
During this second stage, it appeared that many of the gains of the victims' movement might be lost. Federal funding began to diminish, and in 1979, LEAA ceased to exist due to lack of congressional support. As is often the case when there is limited funding paired with identified needs, the various community-based and government-based programs began to compete for limited resources (Lurigio, Skogan, and Davis 1990).
The issues of professionalism and training emerged as divisive themes. Despite their common purpose of assisting victims, the contrasting perspectives, purposes, structure, and operation of grassroots victim programs versus criminal justice-based programs increasingly became issues. This was exacerbated bythe frequent complaint of victim advocates that the criminal justice system did not adequately support victims of rape and domestic violence. Even today, some of the residual animosity from this period is still evident.
In 1978, sexual assault programs and domestic violence programs created their own national organizations to pursue their specific agendas (Young 1986):
During this period, program leaders and administrators debated the strengths and weaknesses of the various programs. Less time and money were directed toward those in need. The focus and direction of the victims' movement were consequently diluted.
Many movements fail (including some of the precursors of the victims' movement) because no "second generation" is trained to continue with the original fervor and energy. Fortunately, this was not true for the victims' movement. In spite of the dissension between the established programs, new grassroots organizations developed. These organizations used the media very effectively. Often led by victims, they directly attacked the indifference of the criminal justice system and the stigmatizing approach of the mental health system.
Two new grassroots programs grew in response to a void in services to underserved victims. The cumulative effect was a new infusion of energy into the movement. These two programs were the following:
Also during this time, in 1979, Frank Carrington founded the Crime Victims' Legal Advocacy Institute, renamed the Victims' Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) in 1981, to advocate for the legal rights of crime victims.
On the legislative front, crime victim advocates pressed for reforms, and state legislators enacted laws that increasingly supported victims (NCVC 1994):
In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first president to proclaim "Crime Victims' Week." Later that year, the Attorney General's Task Force on Violent Crime issued its report. The Task Force, which included Frank Carrington, a leading advocate for improved treatment of crime victims, recommendedthat a separate Task Force be created to consider victims' issues. This became the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime, which issued its report in 1982.
STAGE THREE: PUBLIC AWARENESS (1982-1986)
As the revitalized victims' movement learned to better access the news media, public awareness of victims' issues increased. The 1981 Uniform Crime Reports had clearly shown the increase in victimization, and the movement actively used these new statistics for its cause.
Changes at the federal level led to legislative changes at state levels: Victims' Bills of Rights, proposals for training and education, and expansion of existing victim-witness programs. The single greatest event in the victims' movement to date occurred in 1984: the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
With increased public awareness and high level political support for victims' issues, numerous programs were started and laws passed during this period. The greatest increase in victim-witness programs occurred in this third stage. Some of the highlights of this stage were the following:
In addition, during this stage, theoretical concepts were put to more practical use in both the criminal justice and mental health systems.
In addition, better training in trauma and crisis intervention enabled mental health professionals to learn about victims' issues. Mental health professionals also began to provide better supportive services. Peer support groups began to be seen as a necessary adjunct to successful individual therapy.
During this period, the victims' movement came of age and was more focused and sophisticated (Andrews 1992). The first ten years were initiated and perpetuated by strong leaders with forthright personalities. During this period an important paradigm shift was taking place. The movement had expanded beyond the dynamics of individual-level politics to group-level national politics, resulting in necessary change for growth into a more formalized discipline in the next period.
STAGE FOUR: EXPANDING LEGISLATIVE AGENDA (1987-1991)
In this stage and the next, three major issues emerged:
The growing sophistication of the victims' movement noted earlier enabled advocates to exert power and influence on several fronts. Political efforts during this time were much more organized and presented a clear and cohesive agenda. This agenda addressed funding, victims' rights, and law and order concerns:
Successful results of this agenda include the following:
This legislative agenda continues to grow and expand. The recent serious congressional consideration of a constitutional victim rights' amendment exemplifies this. Activities and issues in this stage continued into the next stage.
STAGE FIVE: EMERGING PROFESSIONALISM AND ADVANCING ADVOCACY (1992-PRESENT)
Professionalism. The most salient issue in recent years is the emerging professionalism in the field of victim services. As with other grassroots movements, there is fear of "professionalizing" a community-based service system that originated and developed its strength through the dedication of volunteers who extended themselves personally to victims in need. Most of the victim service programs, however, have not diluted their passion and are led by dedicated professionals who have years of experience working with victims in a specialized setting.
The historical distrust of other professionals who have no "specialized" training or experience in victim treatment issues has persisted in many areas. Experience has made some of these concerns both legitimate and urgent. However, salary issues, increased availability of training, and a growing interest in program evaluation and quality services have increased the discussion in this area:
The changes in this area have often been small, almost unnoticed, and yet significant. Some states have adopted training guidelines (especially in the areas of rape crisis and domestic violence), and certification initiatives are underway in several states (i.e., California, Connecticut, Kansas, South Carolina, etc.). A handful of community colleges and universities also offer extensive training to victim service providers. A study by Dr. Dana DeHart in South Carolina (1998) indicated the following academic programs for victim advocates:
In the summer of 1989, California State University-Fresno (CSUF) started the first Victim Services Institute to make its Certification Program available to professionals in other states. By 1990, the number of graduates from this program tripled. By 1991, CSUF developed the first victimology major and, by 1992, the first graduate concentration in victimology.
Some victimology programs have also developed legal advocacy components in addition to their training, technical assistance, and educational activities such as the Center for the Study of Crime Victims' Rights, Remedies, and Resources of the University of New Haven in Connecticut. This program, part of the School of Public Safety and Professional Studies, provides Amicus Briefs in selected appellate cases dealing with victims' rights issues, such as several recent Connecticut Supreme Court cases involving evidence in cases of sexual assault, the criminal liability of negligent parents when children are killed by nonbiological caregivers, and the "constancy of accusation" doctrine in adult and child sexual assault cases.
Academic credit and the development of more degree programs will be necessary for the next phase of the victims' rights discipline to take place. The next step is the development of curriculum standards to be used at the national and state levels. The National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) curriculum offers this opportunity. NVAA began in 1995 offering a forty-five-hour core course of work in victim services that can be taken for academic credit; this can currently be done at five sites each summer throughout the United States. This course content is updated annually. It was the basis for the first state-level academy in Michigan in 1998. A multiyear funding strategy for the development of state victim assistance academies was initiated by OVC in 1999.
During this stage, additional significant developments have occurred on the national and state levels with respect to victims' rights constitutional amendments, legislation, expansion of VOCA fund collections, and creation of national programs affecting crime victims.
Victims' rights constitutional amendments
Landmark Federal Legislation
Federal Crime Victims Fund
Other Significant Developments
Specifically, the Act amends Chapter 223 of Title 18 of the United States Code by adding the following new language in Section 3510--Rights of Victims to Attend and Observe the Trial:
Updates on Significant Legislation
VICTIMS' RIGHTS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 3 (SJR 3) before the 106th Congress on January 19, 1999, the most recent version of the federal victims rights constitutional amendment gave victims of violent crime the right to notice in order to attend proceedings arising out of the crime; to speak or submit statements at public hearings in the case, including parole or other early release hearings; to notice if those convicted in their cases are released or escape; and to restitution.
In April 2000, the Federal Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendment (SJR 3) was addressed for the first time by the full U.S. Senate. On April 27, 2000, following two-and-a-half days of debate, SJR 3 was withdrawn for further consideration by its sponsors, Senators Kyl (R-AZ) and Feinstein (D-CA) when it became apparent that the measure would not receive a two-thirds majority vote for approval.
THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT OF 1994
A key provision of the Violence Against Women Act allowing female victims to bring a civil action for damages against their attackers in federal court was narrowly struck down May 15, 2000, by the U.S. Supreme Court. The 5-4 ruling dismissed the case of Christy Brzonkala, a former Virginia Polytechnic Institute student, who was the first person to sue in federal court under the 1994 VAWA Act. The Court majority ruled that Congress, in enacting the civil remedies provision, had overstepped its authority to regulate interstate commerce and enforce the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution. In so doing, the justices rejected the argument that states are not doing enough to protect rape victims and that gender-based violence restricts women's choices in jobs and travel (www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html, 2000).
1. To what extent are people in America concerned about violent crime in the U.S.?
2. How has a concern about violent crime affected the way people in America view the world and live their lives?
3. What are the four movements that set the stage for the victim's rights discipline?
4. Identify the original grassroots crime victim programs and describe their impact on the victims' rights discipline.
5. List two major federal laws that were passed to benefit crime victims in the 1980s and two in the 1990s.