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Chapter 1 Scope of Crime/Historical Review of the Victims' Rights Discipline (Supplement)

Landmark Federal Legislation

  • The Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of 1998 seeks to improve protection for children from sexual predators and to prevent child sexual abuse. It prohibits the transfer of obscene material to minors and increases penalties for repeat offenders for offenses against children (P.L. 105-314).

  • The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 defines the crime of identity theft and outlines the penalties for those convicted in terms of number of victims, use of identification documents, value of losses, and connection to use of violence or drug trafficking (P.L. 105-318).

  • The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 and The Jeanne Clery Act amend the Campus Security Act (P.L. 101-542) and the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights to increase public reporting obligations to include victimization of students in off-campus housing and on public and private property located off-campus but adjacent thereto. Schools must report hate crimes by category of prejudice be it race, gender, religion, orientation, ethnicity, or disability according to the FBI's Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines (20.USC 1092/34 CFR-668.46).

  • The Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act of 1998 directs the Attorney General to conduct a study on crimes against individuals with developmental disabilities. In addition, the Bureau of Justice Statistics must include statistics on the nature of crimes against individuals with developmental disabilities and victim characteristics in its annual National Crime Victimization Survey (P.L. 105-301).

  • The Domestic Violence Provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 calls for the establishment of a Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence that would develop a strategic plan by which the Department of Defense could effectively address matters relating to domestic violence in the military (P.L. 106-65).

  • The Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Prohibition Act of 1999 modifies the schedule of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to criminalize the manufacture, distribution, or possession of gamma butyrolactone (GBL), a "designer drug" associated with date rape and other forms of sexual assault among young adults (P.L. 106-172).

  • The Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act and Jennifer's Law of 2000 increases funds available for enforcement of child abuse and neglect laws; promotes programs for improved child abuse and neglect prevention; and authorizes grant awards to enable states to improve the reporting of unidentified and missing persons (P.L. 106-177).

  • Title III, Section 47 (e), the Domestic Violence Discrimination Prohibition Section of the Financial Services Modernization Act that was enacted on November 12, 1999, amends the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to prohibit banks that sell insurance from denying coverage, terminating coverage, or raising the premiums on coverage of clients who are victims of domestic violence (P.L. 106-102).

  • The .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration Bill is an attachment to the Transportation Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4475) that requires states to adopt a 0.08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) as the legal limit for drunken-driving by 2004. Failure to pass the 0.08 BAC at the state level by 2004 will result in a two percent reduction in federal highway appropriations; failure to pass the 0.08 BAC by 2007 will result in an eight percent reduction (P.L. 106-346).

  • The Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act of 2000 improves the administrative efficiency of abuse and neglect courts by funding state and local grants to reduce the backlog of cases, improve case tracking, and expand the Court-Appointed Special Advocates Program (P.L. 106-314).

(The description of the following legislation is excerpted from a summary report published online by the Violence Against Women Office at the U.S. Department of Justice.)


Division A: Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 combats trafficking of persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and slavery-like conditions, through prevention, prosecution, and enforcement against traffickers, and protection and assistance for victims. The Act:

  • Requires the Secretary of State to include in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices information on the nature and extent of trafficking and efforts to combat trafficking.

  • Requires the President to establish an Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking and authorizes the establishment of an Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking.

  • Charges the President with establishing prevention initiatives to enhance economic opportunities for trafficking victims.

  • Requires the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to establish programs and initiatives in foreign countries to assist in the safe integration, reintegration, or resettlement of victims of trafficking.

  • Directs the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and heads of other federal agencies to expand their benefits and services to "victims of severe forms of trafficking" in the United States, regardless of the victims' immigration status.

  • Authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to state, tribal governments, local governments, and nonprofits to develop, expand, or strengthen services for victims of trafficking.

  • Requires the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to promulgate regulations to ensure that victims of trafficking are provided with appropriate shelter while in federal custody and with necessary medical care, assistance, and protection; that victims have access to information about their rights and translation services; that victims are assured continuous presence in the United States to assist in the prosecution of traffickers; and that State and Justice Department personnel are trained in identifying and protecting victims of trafficking.

  • Creates a new, nonimmigrant "T" visa for certain "victims of severe forms of trafficking" who either have complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking or have not yet turned fifteen years old.

  • In cases of countries that fail to comply with the Act's minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and fail to make significant efforts to comply with such standards, the President is required (at his discretion) to withhold nonhumanitarian U.S. foreign assistance.

  • Increases the penalties for slavery and trafficking crimes and creates a new crime of forced labor that captures slavery-like practices that do not meet the elements of the involuntary servitude statute as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The bill also criminalizes trafficking for the purpose of involuntary servitude or forced labor and sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion. Finally, it punishes the withholding or destruction of immigration or identification documents for the purpose of preventing a trafficking victim from escaping.

  • Provides for mandatory restitution for trafficking victims and for asset forfeiture and witness protection in trafficking cases (P.L. 106-386).

Division B: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2000 provides for direct compensation from the federal government to victims of international terrorism to be augmented in 2000 through Sections 2002-2004 of VAWA 2000.

Provisions of the Victims of Crime Act were rewritten to authorize the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to make supplemental grants to states, victim service organizations, and public agencies to provide emergency relief to victims of terrorist acts or mass violence occurring outside the United States who are persons not eligible for compensation under the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986 (P.L.101-222).

Victim of terrorism was further defined to mean a person who is a national of the United States or an officer or employee of the U.S. government who is injured or killed as a result of a terrorist act or mass violence occurring outside the United States.

The cap on the emergency reserve fund was increased and the fund is placed at the Director of OVC's discretion. The Director of OVC is authorized to use the emergency reserve to carry out a program to compensate victims of acts of international terrorism that occur outside the United States for expenses associated with the victimization.

VAWA 2000 further improves legal tools and programs addressing domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. VAWA 2000 reauthorizes critical grant programs created by the original Violence Against Women Act and subsequent legislation, establishes new programs, and strengthens federal laws. VAWA 2000:

  • Defines "dating violence" and adds "dating violence" to several of the purpose areas under various VAWA grant programs.

  • Increases the set aside for tribes in Indian Country under VAWA grants that address domestic violence and child abuse.

  • Reauthorizes grants and establishes priorities with regard to enforcement of protection orders; allows funding for training for criminal justice professionals on domestic violence and sexual assault of the elderly and individuals with disabilities; and strengthens legal advocacy services for victims of domestic violence.

  • Prohibits states and tribes from requiring notification (to the perpetrator) of the registration of an out-of-state or tribal protection order; states that registration and/or filing cannot be a prerequisite for enforcing out-of-state or tribal orders of protection; and clarifies that tribal courts have full civil jurisdiction to enforce orders of protection.

  • Establishes four new purposes for which VAWA funds may be used: (1) coordinated community responses; (2) sexual assault forensic medical personnel examiners training; (3) programs that assist criminal justice professionals in recognizing the needs and circumstances of older and disabled individuals who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and (4) assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in immigration matters. Widens the definition of underserved populations.

  • Reauthorizes the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Grant Program and adds assistance to victims of domestic violence and child abuse in immigration matters.

  • Reauthorizes the National Stalker and Domestic Violence Reduction grants to improve processes for entering data regarding stalking and domestic violence into local, state, and national crime information databases.

  • Clarifies the elements of Interstate Domestic Violence and Stalking Offenses to improve effective prosecution of these crimes; expands the interstate stalking law to include interstate cyberstalking and entering or leaving Indian country for purposes of stalking.

  • Reauthorizes Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus, clarifies that victim services organizations at public universities are covered, and adds "including assistance to victims in immigration matters" to one of the program's purpose areas.

  • Authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to provide civil legal assistance for victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault; defines legal assistance to include family, immigration, administrative agency, housing, and protection orders; includes private nonprofits, Indian tribal governments, and law school clinics as eligible grantees; and requires grantees to certify that any person providing legal assistance has completed or will complete training that was developed with a domestic violence or sexual assault coalition or program.

  • Reauthorizes the program for Shelter Services for Battered Women And Children.

  • Creates a new grant program to be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services for transitional housing assistance for victims of domestic violence.

  • Reauthorizes the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

  • Requires certain federal agencies to conduct national studies and report to Congress on state laws regarding insurance discrimination against victims of violence against women; on workplace responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and on unemployment compensation for victims of violence against women.

  • Creates a new Department of Justice grant program to provide training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and violence against individuals with disabilities, including domestic violence and sexual assault against older or disabled individuals.

  • Creates a pilot program to make grants to states, units of local government, and Indian tribal governments to work with nonprofit entities to provide supervised visitation and safe visitation exchange of children in cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

  • Reauthorizes the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program, the Child Abuse Training Programs for judicial personnel and practitioners, and the Grants for Televised Testimony.

  • Requires a study and report to Congress on federal and state laws relating to child custody, including recommendations to reduce violence against women and sexual assault of children, and expands emergency jurisdiction under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act to include domestic violence cases.

  • Reauthorizes and expands the grant program for Rape Prevention and Education at the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Creates a new Department of Justice grant program to make grants to provide education and technical assistance on domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault on women with disabilities.

  • Reauthorizes the Department of Health and Human Services program for Community Initiatives.

  • Requires the Attorney General to develop a research agenda based on the recommendations contained in the National Academy of Sciences report "Understanding Violence Against Women" and to report to Congress on the agenda.

  • Requires the Attorney General to evaluate existing standards and protocols and to develop and report to Congress on a national standard and protocol for sexual assault forensic examinations.

  • Reauthorizes the State Justice Institute grants for training for state judges and court personnel and expands the training to include dating violence, domestic violence, and child sexual assault issues in custody and visitation cases.

  • Requires the Attorney General, in consultation with national programs whose primary expertise is in domestic violence, to establish a task force to coordinate federal research on domestic violence.

Title V: New Protections for Battered Women makes numerous improvements that expand battered immigrants' access to immigration relief and removes abusers' ability to use immigration laws as a tool of control over immigrant victims:

  • Allows a battered immigrant who was divorced from the abuser within the previous two years to file for VAWA relief provided that the divorce was connected to the abuse.

  • Authorizes the Attorney General to waive certain barriers to battered immigrants' access to lawful permanent residence, including waivers for certain crimes of domestic violence and other crimes connected to the abuse.

  • Clarifies that battered immigrants' use of public benefits specifically made available to VAWA self-petitioners under the welfare law does not make them ineligible for their green cards on the grounds that they are likely to become a public charge.

  • Allows VAWA self-petitioners to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident in the United States rather than having to go abroad to do so.

  • Creates a new nonimmigrant "U"-visa for victims of certain serious crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking crimes, if the victim has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime, if the victim has information about the crime, and if a law enforcement official or judge certifies that the victim is or is likely to be helpful in investigating or prosecuting the crime.

Division C: Aimee's Law. As an incentive for states to adopt stricter sentencing for murder, rape, or dangerous sexual offenses given the high rate of recidivism among sexual predators, Aimee's Law requires that in cases of repeat offenders of these crimes, the original convicting state pay the costs of prosecution and incarceration of the subsequent offenses (P.L. 106-386).


Kristen's Act of 2000 designates funding to support agencies and not-for-profit groups that hunt for missing adults classified as "at risk or endangered." It establishes a national clearinghouse for missing adults similar to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that would assist law enforcement and families in missing persons over the age of seventeen, when the cases have been determined by law enforcement to be "foul play" (P.L. 106-468).


The Protecting Seniors from Fraud Act of 2000 funds state Triad programs for five years through the National Association of Triads. It provides means to publicly disseminate information to educate senior citizens about fraudulent telemarketing and sweepstakes, and requires that statistics relating to crimes that target seniors, crime risk factors for seniors, and characteristics of seniors who are victimized be included in the National Crime Victimization Survey (P.L. 106-534).


Title IV of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act of 2001 establishes the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 to address the economic and noneconomic losses of victims of this specific act of terrorism. The final rules that govern the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 were published on March 6, 2002 (P.L. 107-42).


The USA Patriot Act of 2001 addresses the needs and concerns of victims of terrorist acts, including immigrant victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and their families who have or had permanent resident status. The Act includes provisions that allow the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime to respond to airline highjacks; to address terrorism within and outside the United States; and to support the International Terrorism Compensation Program. The Act increases funding for training and technical assistance, authorizes use of discretionary funds for program evaluation and compliance efforts, authorizes the Director to use Crime Victim Funds for fellowships and clinical internships, and establishes an antiterrorism emergency reserve in the Victims of Crime Fund (P.L. 107-56).


The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act of 2001 exempts from income taxes any individual who dies as a result of wounds or injury incurred from the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. In addition, anyone who dies as a result of an illness involving anthrax between September 11, 2001, and January 1, 2002, is exempt. Other victim-related relief provisions of the Act include an exclusion from gross income of certain death benefits paid by an employer to a victim of such attacks, special lowered estate tax rates applicable to victims of such attacks, and tax exemptions for payments made to victims by charitable organizations as a result of such attacks (P.L. 107-134).

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Chapter 1 Scope of Crime
Historical Review of the Victims' Rights Discipline
June 2002
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