FEDERAL CRIME VICTIMS PROGRAM
For programmatic purposes, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
defines a federal crime victim as a person or a representative of
an institutional entity that has suffered direct or threatened,
physical, emotional, or financial harm as the result or attempt
of the commission of a crime that violates a federal statute or a
crime that occurs on an area of land within federal jurisdiction,
such as an Indian reservation, a military installation, or a
There are approximately 185 Indian reservations under federal
jurisdiction, as well as more than 400 military installations and
369 national parks. There are also other areas of federal
jurisdiction, which include federal buildings and lands of the
Tennessee Valley Authority. More than 70 federal law enforcement
agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the
U.S. Park Police, and U.S. Postal Inspectors, investigate federal
crimes which are prosecuted in a variety of forums, including
federal district courts, tribal courts, and military courts.
In FY 1994, one federal investigative agency alone, the FBI,
opened 236,510 cases for investigation, and United States
Attorneys issued indictments in 57,133 cases. Department of
Justice (DOJ) components reported a significant increase in the
number of victims and witnesses identified and/or assisted in FY
1994 over previous years. In FY 1994, U.S. Attorneys' offices
identified 133,332 victims, a 41 percent increase over FY 1993.
The number of child victims increased by 118 percent. Federal
Victim-Witness Coordinators (VW Coordinators) in U.S. Attorneys'
offices reported serving 61,171 victims, up 68 percent from
36,412 in FY 1993. VW Coordinators assisted 46 percent of the
victims identified by their offices, up from 38.6 percent in FY
These numbers, however, do not reflect the scope of federal crime
or the actual numbers of federal victims for a variety of
reasons. Some crimes are unreported, offenders often are not
apprehended, and dozens of other federal agencies beside the FBI
and United States Attorneys' offices investigate and prosecute
Funding for Federal Crime Victims
While the numbers of federal crime victims identified have
increased, as have the number of federal laws, the amount of
money statutorily allocated for federal crime victims decreased
from a high of $3.4 million in FY 1986 to $2.5 million in FY 1993
and $1.6 million in FY 1994.
Since 1985, yearly funding for services to federal crime victims
has fluctuated due to legislative changes to VOCA. These
fluctuations are set forth in Table 2 below. Although
collections in the Crime Victims Fund have increased
significantly, the percentage of the Fund allocated to assist
federal crime victims has declined. The Children's Justice and
Assistance Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-401) and the Federal Courts
Administration Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-572) both decreased the
percentage of the Fund available for services to federal crime
Table 2 - FEDERAL CRIME VICTIMS FUNDING
Year: Total Available: FCV Funding Percent of Fund:
FY 86 $ 68,312,955 $3,413,955 5.0%
FY 87 62,505,345 625,559 1.0%
FY 88 77,446,382 774,296 0.9%
FY 89 93,559,361 1,250,000 1.3%
FY 90 125,000,000 1,250,000 1.0%
FY 91 125,000,000 1,250,000 1.0%
FY 92 150,000,000 1,398,000 0.9%
FY 93 144,733,739 2,500,000 1.7%
FY 94 185,090,720 1,679,545 0.9%
Federal Victim and Witness Statutes
OVC is responsible for overseeing the implementation of
important aspects of the following laws, which impact the rights
of and services for federal crime victims:
Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 (VWPA) (Pub.L. 97-291): Under VWPA, the Attorney General is required to develop and implement guidelines for DOJ officials to follow in enforcing the rights and services for victims and witnesses who participate in the federal criminal justice system. These Guidelines are called the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance (AG Guidelines), and they are updated to reflect changes in federal statutes. VWPA also requires the Attorney General to ensure that all federal law enforcement agencies outside the Department of Justice adopt similar guidelines.
OVC is required by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to
monitor compliance with these guidelines. Accordingly, OVC
evaluates information obtained from a questionnaire which is
circulated annually to relevant DOJ components to determine the
services they provide to federal victims and witnesses. OVC
also solicits information from federal law enforcement agencies
outside the Justice Department to determine their compliance.
This information is compiled by OVC staff and forwarded to the
Attorney General each year.
Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) (Pub.L. 98-473, Title II,
Chapter XIV): In addition to requiring the OVC Director to
monitor federal law enforcement agency compliance with VWPA, VOCA
established the Crime Victims Fund and set forth a number of
responsibilities for serving federal crime victims. VOCA
requires the Director of OVC to make grants "for the financial
support of services to victims of Federal crime by eligible crime
victim assistance programs." The statute defines services to
victims of federal crime to include: (1) training of law
enforcement personnel in the delivery of services to victims of
federal crime, and (2) preparation, publication, and distribution
of informational materials. In addition, general services for
all victims includes assistance in participating in criminal
justice proceedings, including transportation to court, and
crisis intervention and other emergency services. VOCA also
requires the Director of OVC to provide grants to assist Native
American Indian tribes in developing, establishing, and operating
programs designed to improve the handling of child abuse cases
and the investigation and prosecution of these cases.
Children's Justice and Assistance Act of 1986 (CJA) (Pub.L. 99-401): In response to a number of cases involving mass child
molestation allegations, CJA was passed and amended VOCA by
making Crime Victims Fund dollars available to the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve the handling of child
abuse cases. CJA provides a funding mechanism to assist state
and local governments in establishing a multidisciplinary,
coordinated approach to handling these cases, thereby diminishing
the trauma experienced by children who participate in the
criminal justice system. In FY 1993 and FY 1994, HHS received
$9.325 million under this provision each year. In addition, OVC
administered $675,000 in CJA funding each year to improve the
handling of child abuse cases in Indian Country.
Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 (VRRA) (Pub.L. 101-647): The VRRA created a Federal Crime Victims' Bill of Rights
and codified services that shall be available to victims of
federal crime. Although this Act does not specifically address
the treatment of witnesses, it reinforced and augmented the VWPA
by acknowledging the necessary role of witnesses in the criminal
justice process and by ensuring their fair treatment by
responsible officials. The VWPA had required that rights and
services be accorded only "where possible;" however, the VRRA
required that DOJ and other investigatory and prosecutorial
agencies "shall make their best efforts to see that victims of
crime are accorded their rights....". These rights are described
in Table 3, and were incorporated into the AG Guidelines, which
mandate compliance by all relevant DOJ components and serve as a
blueprint for the victim-witness guidelines of other agencies.
Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 (VCAA) (Pub.L. 101-647):
The VCAA contains extensive amendments to the criminal code
affecting the treatment of child victims and child witnesses by
the federal criminal justice system. The 1990 VCAA requires
specified professionals working on federal lands and in
federally-operated facilities to report suspected child abuse,
protects the confidentiality of child victims, and provides for
alternatives to live in-court testimony for child victims.
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Crime Act) (Pub.L. 103-322): Among other provisions, the Crime Act established important new victim rights, services and enhanced sentences, including:
the right to address the court at the time of sentencing (allocution) for victims of violence and sexual abuse;
mandatory restitution for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and exploitation, and telemarketing fraud;
notice and payment for testing and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases for sexual assault victims;
the right of a domestic violence victim to be heard at a pre-release hearing of a defendant;
full faith and credit of interstate protection orders for domestic violence victims;
sentence enhancements for those who commit certain offenses, including violence against women and crimes against the elderly; and
protections for battered immigrant women.
Although the Crime Act passed during FY 1994, much of its
implementation took place in FY 1995 after the reporting period
for this report.
Table 3: FEDERAL CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS
A federal crime victim has the following rights:
(1)The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
(2)The right to be reasonably protected from the accused offender.
(3)The right to be notified of court proceedings.
(4)The right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense, unless the court determines that testimony by the victim would be materially affected if the victim heard other testimony at trial.
(5)The right to confer with attorney for the Government in the case.
(6)The right to restitution.
(7)The right to information about the conviction, sentencing,
imprisonment, and release of the offender.
In addition to these rights set forth in the Victims' Rights and
Restitution Act of 1990, other rights contained in the 1994 Crime
(8)The right to notice and payment for testing and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases for sexual assault victims.
(9)The right of a domestic violence victim to be heard at a pre-release hearing of a defendant.
(10)The right for victims of violence and sexual abuse to provide allocution at sentencing.
(11)The right to mandatory restitution for domestic violence,
sexual assault, sexually exploited and other abused children, and
telemarketing fraud victims.
Federal Crime Victims Program Responsibilities
VOCA requires that federal crime victims receive the same
services from states as other crime victims. OVC ensures that
federal crime victims received needed services and rights through
the following initiatives:
Providing direct services to victims of federal crime through a variety of discretionary grant programs, including the Federal Victim Assistance Fund and the Victim Assistance in Indian Country program;
Administering the Children's Justice and Assistance Act for Native Americans;
Providing training for federal law enforcement personnel who assist crime victims;
Preparing and disseminating information and materials regarding services to victims of federal crimes;
Consulting and coordinating efforts with federal law enforcement agencies that have responsibilities affecting victims of federal crime;
Coordinating victim services provided by the federal government with victim services offered by other public agencies and nonprofit organizations; and
Monitoring compliance with the AG Guidelines for fair treatment
of crime victims and witnesses required by VWPA.
Direct Services for Victims of Federal Crimes
OVC has implemented several direct service programs for victims
of federal crime, including the administration of an emergency
fund to enhance the provision of essential victim services that
are unavailable from other sources and two special grant programs
that provide assistance to crime victims in Indian Country.
Federal Victim Assistance Fund
VOCA emphasizes the importance of fair treatment for crime
victims who participate in the federal criminal justice system.
To that end, OVC reserves a portion of the discretionary monies
from the Crime Victims Fund to provide services for victims of
federal crimes. VOCA requires state compensation and assistance
programs that receive federal funds to provide services to
federal crime victims as well. The Federal Victim Assistance
Fund was established to assist victims to participate in criminal
justice proceedings and to ensure provision of crucial services,
such as crisis counseling, transportation to court, short-term
child care, and temporary housing and security measures when
these services are unavailable through other means.
Guidelines for access to these funds require U.S. Attorneys'
offices to request this support. In FY 1993 and FY 1994, OVC
approved 50 such requests and provided approximately $100,000 for
these services. Some examples of these requests include:
In FY 1993, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas
requested funding for an experienced therapist from the Menninger
Clinic to provide a two-hour crisis intervention session for
federal employees who were held hostage in a federal courthouse
by a gunman. The gunman killed one employee and wounded four
others during the ordeal. The therapist debriefed more than 70
staff members during the session.
In FY 1993, the District of South Dakota requested assistance
to pay travel and per diem expenses for a mother to take her two
daughters who allegedly had been physically and sexually abused
by their stepfather to a medical examination 125 miles away.
Upon disclosing the abuse, the girls and their mother were
threatened by family and community members, including the
defendant's brother. The funds were used to pay mileage and per
diem to enable the two children to have a medical examination.
The examination subsequently showed evidence that abuse had taken
In FY 1994, the District of Arizona requested assistance to
cover the hiring of a sign language interpreter for an assault
victim's mother. The victim, a Native American male, was hit
with a baseball bat and suffered a massive skull fracture. The
victim's mother, who is deaf, requested to attend the sentencing
hearing of her son's assailant. However, because she was a third
party, the court would not provide a sign language interpreter
free of charge. Instead, it required that she obtain a court
order to supply an interpreter from the court interpreter's
office at a rate of $150 per hour. The Victim-Witness
Coordinator was able to locate an agency in the area that would
provide a sign language interpreter at a greatly reduced rate.
OVC was able to support the costs of this interpreter through the
Fund, allowing the mother to understand the proceedings.
Services to Native American Crime Victims
The federal government has a unique relationship with Native
American tribes because they are recognized in statute as special
entities with their own tribal laws and customs. OVC has
implemented two effective programs that support direct services
to crime victims on Native American lands.
Children's Justice Act (CJA) Grants for Native Americans: In FY
1993 and FY 1994, CJA provided OVC with $675,000 each year to
fund the only federal program for tribes that focuses exclusively
on lessening the trauma to child victims who participate in
criminal justice proceedings. OVC's CJA funds are awarded to
federally recognized tribes through a competitive discretionary
grant process. The funds are intended to address the
shortcomings of tribal and state criminal justice systems in
handling child sexual and physical abuse cases through enhanced
investigative and prosecutorial practices, more efficient case
coordination, and improved services.
OVC publishes announcements each fiscal year that invite tribes
to design programs to foster greater cooperation among all
tribal, state, and federal investigating and prosecuting
agencies. These agencies include law enforcement departments,
court systems, prosecutorial offices, and social service/mental
health organizations. In their proposals, tribes are required to
describe their current systems for responding to child abuse and
to propose reforms in those systems that are appropriate, given
tribal settings and government structures. Appendix E lists the
grants awarded under CJA through FY 1994.
CJA Success Stories: The following narratives illustrate the
complexity of handling serious cases of child abuse in Indian
Country and exemplify the success stories that have resulted from
the use of CJA funds.
The Menominee Indian Tribe
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin received a grant to
provide training to seven multidisciplinary agencies involved in
handling child abuse cases on the reservation. The program was
designed to develop a concentrated, coordinated approach to the
investigation and prosecution of cases and to increase the
involvement of professionals through intensive cross-training.
Through the CJA program, the tribe developed a protocol for Child
Protection and a Memorandum of Agreement for the
Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The Child Protective Services
Worker/Investigator has stated ".... OVC funding was instrumental
in providing training for the MDT agencies and improving
knowledge and skills of existing personnel on the Menominee
Reservation." Today, the tribe continues its cross- and joint-training efforts in order to upgrade and enhance professional
staff in the area of child abuse on the reservation. The outcomes
have been better treatment of child victims, improved victim
cooperation with involved agencies, reduction of conflicting
evidence, and an increase in the number of prosecutions.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which straddles the borders of
South Dakota and North Dakota, established the Wakanyejaki
Wawokiya (Children's Helper Project) to provide services to child
sexual abuse victims, as well as to develop a formal protocol for
addressing child abuse/sexual abuse. This was the first effort
made by the tribe to establish clearly defined lines of authority
and roles and responsibilities for the various agencies involved
in responding to child abuse victims. The protocol was approved
by the Judicial Committee as well as the Tribal Council.
Because the tribe chose to assume its own social services and
child protection responsibilities rather than to continue them
under contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the
protocol now serves as the reservation's primary guide to
ensuring the safety and welfare of Indian children within the
tribe's jurisdiction. In addition to the development and
approval of the Child Abuse Protocol, the tribe then revised its
Children's Code to reinforce the protocol.
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Sault Ste.
Marie, Michigan, initiated the Broken Feathers project in the
Fall of 1992 within the Anishnabek Community and Family Services
Office. The program quickly developed the Broken Feathers
Procedural Manual, which established a Multidisciplinary Team
(MDT) to develop a community response to severe child physical
and sexual abuse. Included in the manual are procedures for
responding specifically to each protective service referral as
well as procedures for processing and managing cases of child
sexual abuse. The MDT coordinates all investigations of child
sexual abuse and ensures proper and timely investigation of
referrals to the Family Services Division.
Today, the Broken Feathers program provides the professionals who
serve crime victims an opportunity for networking and
collaboration, thereby increasing the probability of improved
coordination of services needed by victims and their families now
and in the future. Examples of this coordination include:
the Modified "Michigan Model" Child Abuse Protocol adapted to
make it tribally and Native American-specific.
numerous in-service trainings and community education
presentations provided to tribal schools, tribal housing
authorities, staff and tribal leaders, as well as tribal and
county service providers.
a computer database established to track cases through the
system; e.g., case number, victim information (date of birth,
age), county of abuse, perpetrator's relationship to victim,
investigator's name, type of treatment offered, and case
substantiation and verification information.
Through efforts like these, CJA has resulted in systemic change
among agencies handling child sexual and physical abuse cases and
diminished the trauma of child victims and witnesses who
participate in the criminal justice system.
Victim Assistance in Indian Country (VAIC): Since 1988, through
grants to states, OVC has provided funds for tribal governments
to operate victim assistance programs in Indian Country. Between
1992 and 1994, OVC continued its commitment to address the needs
of Native American crime victims by supporting the establishment
of "on-reservation" victim assistance programs in remote parts of
Indian Country. Prior to 1988, there were few -- if any --
existing services for victims in these remote areas. The VAIC
program was designed to be a seed program that subsequently could
be supported through VOCA victim assistance block grant funds or
other tribal or state resources.
Since 1988, OVC has awarded more than $5.4 million to 19 states
under this innovative grant program. As a result, more than 52
Native American victim assistance programs have been established
in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The VAIC program has touched the lives of thousands of Native
Americans requiring victim assistance services and has stimulated
the growth of a responsive victim assistance network that has
become a permanent part of Native American communities. As
envisioned, some states now fund a number of tribal victim
assistance programs out of their own state revenues or a portion
of their federal VOCA victim assistance grant -- an indication
that the seeding effort envisioned by OVC has begun to take root.
Tribal victim assistance programs focus their efforts on victims
of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. However,
in recent years, more emphasis has been placed on providing
assistance to victims of other violent crimes, including
survivors of homicide victims. Chart 9 illustrates primary
victims and types of victimization in FY 1993. Trained staff and
volunteers assist victims by providing crisis intervention,
emergency and temporary shelter, mental health counseling, and
court advocacy during federal and tribal investigative and
As indicated below, many of the assistance programs have gained
the acceptance and support of their tribal communities; others
have received formal endorsements of the tribal leaders.
The Southern Ute Tribal Council in Utah now supports its victim
assistance program by paying one-half of the salary of its victim
services coordinator. This will allow the program to hire a
second advocate part-time to work nights. The tribe has also
agreed to pay all office expenses and local travel costs.
On the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Tender
Hearts, Inc. received a Bush Foundation Grant to purchase and
remodel the Warrior Motel for use as a shelter for victims of
domestic violence. The shelter sleeps up to 30 people. Support
from the tribe was evidenced by them paying off the balance of
the shelter debt of $40,000 and providing an additional $10,000
for shelter related expenses. The tribe has also assured Tender
Hearts, Inc., that it will be considered a top priority when
casino revenues are distributed.
At the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico, tribal officials have
incorporated the victim assistance program into the tribal police
department. Each year, Zuni's victim assistance program receives
line item financial assistance to support costs associated with
office space and salaries. The victim assistance program at Zuni
is the only program "on-reservation" that provides crisis
response services to crime victims.
OVC also provides extensive training and technical assistance to
tribes receiving VAIC funding. OVC awarded $220,000 in grants to
the National Indian Justice Center, Inc. (NIJC), an Indian-owned
and controlled nonprofit corporation, to address the VAIC
subgrantee program needs through the development of a
comprehensive training and technical assistance plan. This plan
was designed to provide training and technical assistance and
consultation services to more than 35 tribal-based victim
The training and technical assistance provided by NIJC has
enabled local VAIC programs to improve their overall program
management; develop and write competitive applications for
funding; train volunteers in crisis intervention and other
specific skills; establish case record systems; train law
enforcement officers on effectively responding to crime victims;
and establish support groups for survivors of homicide victims.
Training and Technical Assistance for Federal Criminal Justice
OVC provides federal criminal justice personnel with numerous
training opportunities on effective intervention techniques with
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
As part of an ongoing interagency agreement with OVC, the U.S.
Department of Treasury's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
(FLETC) provides victim-witness assistance training each year to
more than 5,000 law enforcement officers from over 70 different
federal agencies. This training is provided as part of the basic
law enforcement instruction at FLETC. Two separate training
modules -- a four hour course on victimology and a two hour
course on victim-witness awareness -- are taught. Students are
required to demonstrate proper communication skills when dealing
with victims and witnesses through role-play exercises, which are
videotaped and critiqued by the course instructors and other
students. FLETC recently added victim-witness training in three
advanced programs: advanced interviewing; advanced financial
fraud; and continuing legal education.
In FY 1994, OVC and FLETC sponsored the first joint training of
Victim-Witness Coordinators from U.S. Attorneys' offices and
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Victim-Witness
Coordinators. The coordinators represented 14 federal Districts
and 15 FBI field offices. This "team training" stressed the need
for comprehensive victim case coordination between investigative
offices and federal prosecutors. Another unique FLETC training
provided a "train-the-trainer" session to National Park Service
(NPS) rangers from the Southeast region and law enforcement
program coordinators from various other NPS regions.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
In 1992, OVC entered into an Interagency Agreement with the FBI
to provide training to FBI personnel regarding their statutory
victim-witness responsibilities. This agreement has allowed the
develop an implementation plan that complies with requirements
of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness
distribute informational material to all FBI offices;
assess and develop training materials for the FBI's Training
Academy at Quantico, Virginia;
develop and distribute a brochure in several languages for FBI
agents to give to victims and witnesses to inform them of their
legal rights and available services;
produce a training video;
provide consultation to FBI field offices on the implementation
of victim-witness programs within their offices; and
provide specialized training to all field office Victim-Witness
As a result of this VOCA funding, the FBI was able to offer two
training sessions in 1993-1994 for FBI Victim-Witness
Coordinators, one specialized training session for agents
investigating child abuse in Indian Country, and one session for
agents handling child exploitation and pornography cases.
Training for Federal Prosecutors
OVC has pursued numerous collaborative initiatives to provide
training for U.S. Attorney staff regarding best approaches for
assisting victims of federal crimes and incorporating new
victims' rights laws, as well as multijurisdictional and
multidisciplinary team approaches to serving crime victims. OVC
sponsored teams nominated by U.S. Attorneys' offices for a
special day of team training on handling child sexual abuse cases
in the federal system. The Federal Training Day was held in
conjunction with the National Symposium on Child Sexual Abuse in
February 1994. More than 150 federal prosecutors, investigators,
and federal Victim-Witness Coordinators attended representing 23
different federal districts.
OVC also coordinates with the Executive Office for United States
Attorneys (EOUSA) to select federal prosecutors to attend a
variety of OVC-sponsored training conferences regarding their
responsibilities to victims of crime. For example:
VOCA funded 12 Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) who handle
cases involving federal crime victims in Indian Country to attend
the "Strengthening Indian Nations: Justice for Victims of Crime
Conference," held May 11-13, 1994, in Albuquerque, New Mexico,
OVC also sent five AUSAs to the National Center for Prosecution
of Child Abuse "Investigation and Prosecution of Child Deaths and
Physical Abuse Conference," held April 6-9, 1994, in Clearwater,
Florida. Attendees received skills-building training on how to
properly interview child victims of abuse in order to reduce
additional trauma, how to identify the signs of domestic violence
with respect to neglect and possible death, and how to build
functioning multidisciplinary child death review teams.
Finally, OVC and the Office of Legal Education (OLE) have begun
to integrate victim issues training into OLE's basic and advanced
training courses. In June 1994, OVC staff participated on a
panel at OLE's Native American Issues Seminar -- a four-day
training program designed to increase the skills of participants
handling violent crime and juvenile cases in Indian Country.
Training for Federal Victim-Witness Coordinators
In 1993 and 1994, OVC funded a unique cooperative agreement with
the National Victim Center and EOUSA to provide victim assistance
training designed expressly for Victim-Witness Coordinators. The
first "Focus on the Future: Victim Assistance in the Federal
System" conference was held September 13-15, 1993, in Baltimore,
Maryland, providing Coordinators with basic-to-advanced skills
training tracks based upon the recommendations of Coordinators in
the field, EOUSA, and Federal Leadership Council members. The
second conference occurred July 12-14, 1994, in Arlington,
Virginia, and used the recommendations of the Federal Leadership
Council members as well as the evaluations from Coordinators
attending the 1993 conference in Baltimore to enhance the
training. In addition to the speakers and workshop material
provided during the conferences, Coordinators received a "Focus
on the Future" conference manual and a victim assistance resource
kit containing sample needs assessment and victim impact
statement forms and letters, which were formatted onto computer
disks for further use and refinement in their own districts.
OVC also sponsored 40 new federal Victim-Witness Coordinators to
attend the National Organization for Victim Assistance annual
conference held September 12-16, 1994, in Burlingame, California.
OVC and EOUSA hosted a special meeting during the conference for
the new Coordinators to review and discuss the new victim
provisions contained within the 1994 Crime Act.
Finally, in February 1994, OVC engaged U.S. Attorneys and federal
Victim-Witness Coordinators in an effort to link federal criminal
justice agencies with a national teleconference training on the
review and handling of child death cases. The two-day
teleconference was broadcast free of charge from the studios of
South Carolina Educational Television on February 16-17, 1994.
As a result, more than 25 U.S. Attorneys' Offices around the
country participated in the training.
Multidisciplinary Training Efforts
Multidisciplinary training is an essential component of many OVC-funded training projects. Since 1988, OVC has sent teams of
federal criminal justice officials to attend the National
Symposium on Child Sexual Abuse in Huntsville, Alabama. The
Symposium presents state-of-the-art information for law
enforcement, medical, victim advocacy, mental health, and social
service professionals. Attendees have included FBI special
agents, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Victim-Witness Coordinators,
U.S. Postal Inspectors, and Bureau of Indian Affairs criminal
investigators. This skills-building training has promoted an
interdisciplinary approach to coordinating all aspects of child
sexual abuse cases.
Another example of multidisciplinary training involves a joint
funding venture with the Office for Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). In 1993, OVC and OJJDP awarded a
$224,000 grant to the Education Development Center (EDC) of
Newton, Massachusetts, to develop a model victim services
component for multijurisdictional task forces working on cases of
child pornography and juvenile prostitution. EDC developed, in
coordination with the Massachusetts Child Exploitation Network, a
protocol to guide the sharing of information about identified
victims between law enforcement and victim services agencies, and
then provided training on the use of the protocol to more than
100 personnel representing various agencies in Massachusetts.
The project was expanded in 1995 to include three additional
cities -- Los Angeles, Chicago, and Phoenix.
OVC trained other agency personnel as well. In 1993-1994, OVC
funded the participation of more than 60 FBI agents and National
Park Service investigative officers at the Dallas Crimes Against
Children Conference, sponsored by the Sex Crimes Unit of the
Dallas Police Department, which brought together personnel from
law enforcement, prosecutors, and child protective services who
are involved in the investigation of crimes against children.
District Specific Training
In 1994, OVC initiated the District Specific Training Program to
assist U.S. Attorneys in their responsibility to comply with
federal crime victims' legislation and to improve the response of
federal criminal justice, tribal, military, and other personnel
within their jurisdictions to the needs of federal crime victims.
This translated into an offering of funds for skills-building
training to U.S. Attorneys, through a reimbursable agreement with
The training provides discipline-specific, day-long workshops as
well as full conference support for regional, multidisciplinary
programs. The funds are also used to support scholarships for
conference participants from remote land areas who could not
otherwise afford to attend.
Beyond providing intensive skills training to the various
disciplines, the District Specific Training Program provides a
forum for networking and for identifying and solving problems.
Several Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between federal and
tribal agencies on handling family violence cases have been
initiated and are now in place in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah
as a result of alliances begun at the Four Corners Indian Country
Conference -- one of the first District Specific Training
conferences initiated by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices for the
districts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
OVC approved five District Specific Training Program requests in
1994 -- representing multidisciplinary collaboration and co-sponsorships from 16 U.S. Attorneys Offices. These conferences
and training programs brought together more than 1,000
participants, including 116 Native Americans from 42 different
tribes or pueblos who applied and received scholarships to
This multidisciplinary and multicultural participation has caused
a variety of positive systemic changes in the way agencies handle
victim cases. For example, the Northern and Eastern Districts of
Oklahoma held a District Specific Training Conference entitled
"Government to Government Relations Utilizing Disciplinary
Teams," in August 1994 in Afton, Oklahoma. As a result, the FBI
Special Agents in Charge, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Area
Directors, the State Department of Human Services Director, and
the U.S. Attorneys for the Districts of Northern and Eastern
Oklahoma signed an MOU with 23 tribal leaders that defines
federal, tribal and state responsibilities for investigating,
prosecuting, and protecting children who are victims of child
abuse and neglect. This historic signing was incorporated into
the three-day conference and stands as a testament to the
cooperation and determination put forth by state, tribal and
federal law enforcement, as well as child protective services
community, to respond to the unique needs of Native American
children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The District
Specific Training Program also has served to further enhance the
multidisciplinary team concept.
Military Communities Assisting Crime Victims
All federal agencies have statutory responsibilities to provide
victim and witness assistance services at each stage of the
criminal justice process -- investigatory, prosecutorial, and
correctional. Although OVC routinely coordinates victim and
witness assistance programs and training activities with all
federal agencies, only two federal agencies -- the Department of
Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Defense (DOD), have full
investigative, prosecutorial, and correctional responsibilities
to victims and witnesses of crime. Because of these
similarities, it has been mutually beneficial for DOD and DOJ to
share resources and expertise.
In June 1993, the DOD General Counsel requested OVC's assistance
in implementing a comprehensive victim-witness assistance program
within DOD. OVC responded by adding two military-specific
programs to OVC's efforts, resulting in vast systemic changes in
the manner in which the military serves victims of crime.
OVC provided grant funding to the National Organization for
Victim Assistance (NOVA) for comprehensive skills-building
training to military criminal justice personnel and service
providers. NOVA worked with OVC and the DOD Victim-Witness
Assistance Council to integrate military-specific topics and
information into existing NOVA victim assistance training
curricula and developed the "Military Communities Serving Crime
Victims" training program. A two-day train-the-trainer session
and a three-day pilot training conference were provided for
military personnel to evaluate the model. After changes to the
curriculum, three regional three-day training conferences were
held. Military installations were invited to send
multidisciplinary teams consisting of law enforcement personnel,
prosecutors, and direct services providers to the training
sessions. Over 600 military personnel from more than 250
military installations attended the training sessions.
A second program involved the National Victim Center, OVC, and
various DOD components, which integrated military-specific topics
and information into the existing "OVC Crime Victims in
Corrections" training curricula. Three training sessions were
held for military corrections personnel, with each session hosted
by a different military service: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (Army);
Quantico, Virginia (Marine Corps); and Miramar, California
(Navy). Each conference hosted 100 participants and consisted of
three separate training tracks -- Crime Victims and Corrections,
Impact of Crime on Victims, and Staff Victimization.
This was the first time standardized victim assistance training
had been offered for personnel from military correctional
facilities. Recently, with assistance from an OVC staff member
who served as the only non-DOD representative on the DOD
Corrections Council and the DOD Victim Assistance Council, DOD
proposed regulatory changes that will require all military
inmates to complete an impact of crime on victims curriculum
prior to release from any military correctional facility. This
is the only correctional program in the nation to have such a
requirement. OVC is currently collaborating with DOD to provide
training to the instructors in a related course.
DOD's publication of a revised "Directive and Instruction on
Victim and Witness Assistance" in late 1994 enabled DOD to
respond to federal victim-witness statutory requirements to
inform victims of their rights, refer them for services, and
notify them throughout the criminal justice process. More
importantly, the new Directive allowed DOD to exceed federal
victim-witness requirements by requiring interdisciplinary
victim-witness assistance councils on military installations and
annual reporting procedures.
DOD also developed a system, the Defense Incident-Based Reporting
System (DIBERS), that will track a criminal case from the time of
the offense to the disposition of the case. Documentation of all
victim information and notifications will be included in DIBERS.
This system will provide detailed data about when and where crime
takes place, what form it takes, and the characteristics of its
victims and perpetrators. Although all federal law enforcement
agencies have had the requirement to implement an incident-based
reporting system since 1988, DOD will be the first agency
actually to do so.
Once fully implemented, the DOD Victim-Witness Assistance Program
will be the most comprehensive federal agency program in
existence, combining strong regulatory guidance, training,
mandatory reporting, accountability, and evaluation. This is
expected to be a prime example of federal agencies working
together toward a common goal -- to provide comprehensive victim-witness services.
Monitoring Services to Crime Victims by Federal Agencies
The Victim and Witness Protection Act (VWPA) of 1982 requires the
Department of Justice to develop and implement federal guidelines
for the fair treatment of crime victims and witnesses in the
criminal justice system and requires the Attorney General to
ensure that all federal law enforcement agencies outside the
Department of Justice adopt similar guidelines. The AG
Guidelines establish procedures for DOJ components in providing
services to victims and witnesses who participate in the federal
criminal justice process. The AG Guidelines require: (1) U.S.
Attorneys' offices, litigating divisions, and investigative
agencies to designate or employ one or more persons specifically
for the purpose of carrying out victim services; (2) each DOJ
component to have written victim-witness assistance procedures;
and (3) training programs to be developed for applicable DOJ
DOJ components are required to report annually to the Attorney
General, through OVC, on their "Best Efforts" in ensuring the
statutory rights of the crime victims served in the previous
fiscal year. In most instances, the self-reported responses are
gathered through a two-page victim and witness program
questionnaire that DOJ components and U.S. Attorney's offices
submit. The questionnaire was developed by OVC in cooperation
with the Law Enforcement Coordination/Victim-Witness Subcommittee
to the Attorney General's Advisory Committee. Some components
provide additional information to supplement the data captured by
Responses to the FY 1994 questionnaire indicate that although the
total number of reported criminal indictments dropped 10 percent
from the last Report to Congress, the number of victims involved
in cases increased by 43 percent, and the number of those victims
requesting full notification services increased by over 100
percent. Federal Victim-Witness Coordinators in U.S. Attorneys'
offices were personally involved with victims in 18,198 cases in
FY 1994, an increase of more than 40 percent.
Since this report is based on responses to a limited
questionnaire and self-reports from each of the components, there
is insufficient information to explain the increases in victim
assistance in FY 1994. It is possible that the increases in the
number of victims served are due in part to a heightened
awareness of victims' issues in prosecuting offices, the
continued emphasis on victims' issues by the Department and the
Attorney General, an increase in multi-victim cases, and/or
better reporting practices.
In some instances, however, the number of victims assisted by
federal components declined or remained constant in FY 1994. The
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) monitored 2,541 inmates and
provided notifications to 5,500 victims and witnesses. The
number of inmates monitored increased by 25 percent since FY
1993, but the number of victims and witnesses enrolled in the
program decreased by 35 percent, down from 8,555. The number of
victims identified by DOJ litigating divisions did not
significantly increase. Set forth below is further statistical
information comparing the FY 1992 to the FY 1994 Best Efforts
Table 4: Best Efforts Report Data, FY 1992 and FY 1994
CategoryFY 92 Best Efforts ReportFY 94 Best
Number of criminal indictments 63,464 57,133
Number of victims involved 92,606 133,232
Number of child victims 1,748 1,228
Number of victims requesting notification 11,097 23,188
Number of victims assisted 45,526 61,121
Number of cases with direct involvement of VW* Coordinator 12,828 18,098
* Victim-Witness Coordinator
OVC also plays a key role in monitoring and facilitating the
compliance of more than 70 federal agencies with the Victim-Witness Protection Act and other statutory mandates affecting
victims of federal crime. Ensuring compliance involves
ascertaining how well victim services are delivered. OVC
accomplishes this monitoring in a variety of ways. OVC provides
instructional resources, conferences, and seminars that enable
federal agencies to respond properly to victims. In addition,
OVC enters into a number of Interagency or Cooperative Agreements
that help federal agencies carry out their responsibilities to
victims. Finally, OVC monitors compliance through first-hand
observation, especially in Indian Country. This is an ongoing
effort as federal statutes constantly change.
Since OVC first began its monitoring of federal agency efforts,
the number of victims involved in federal cases and the services
provided have increased significantly. In the 1988 Report to
Congress, EOUSA reported 23,579 victims of federal crime. In
1994, this figure had grown to 133,232, an increase of 560
Anecdotal information provided by the survey shows that
statistics alone cannot illustrate the scope of federal victim
and witness assistance efforts that occur on a routine basis in
U.S. Attorney's offices. Although the AG Guidelines designate
U.S. Attorneys' offices as the responsible agency for providing
services to victims and witnesses of federal crimes after the
case has been accepted for indictment, Victim-Witness
Coordinators often provide services for victims in cases under
investigation or transferred from another District.
It is not unusual for Victim-Witness Coordinators to travel many
hours to assist victims in remote locations, such as Indian
reservations. For example, the Victim-Witness Coordinator from
New Mexico traveled more than 2,500 miles in FY 1994 alone to
visit victims and survivors in their homes. During these visits,
the Victim-Witness Coordinator performed needs assessments, made
referrals for appropriate services, explained the judicial
process, and provided updates on the status of the victim's case.
These personal visits helped humanize the judicial process and
demonstrated the commitment of the U.S. Attorney's Office to
victims and their cases.
Federal Victim-Witness Coordinators provide a number of advocacy
services on behalf of federal crime victims, including those
highlighted below. The delivery of services to crime victims has
been enhanced through VOCA-funded training sponsored by OVC and
Victim-Witness Coordinators assist victims in filling out victim
impact statements, which allow victims to describe for the court
at the time of sentencing the harm they have suffered personally
due to the offender's crime. For some judges, this is the first
opportunity to meet the victim or understand the impact of the
defendant's action(s) on the victim and his/her family. Since
the 1994 Crime Act was enacted, federal victims of violent crime
have been able to allocute -- to appear personally at the time of
sentencing to present a verbal victim impact statement. For
example, in the Eastern District of Texas, the son of a man
killed in a carjacking presented the first allocution in that
district since the 1994 Crime Act allowing federal allocution was
enacted. The son, who also is a federal judge, poignantly
described his family's loss:
".... for my mother, my sister, my wife, and I, the sun will come
up again. But it will never come up again for the real victim of
this crime. Not only will he never see what he worked a lifetime
for, and was finally within reach of obtaining. That would be
tragedy enough. But even worse, he died knowing that the only
thing that ever could have ruined his life had come to pass --
that his wife and family might have to suffer the kind of pain
that is now ours and he was helpless to prevent it even as he saw
Federal Victim-Witness Coordinators often assist federal victims
in obtaining crime victim compensation funds through OVC-funded
state compensation programs. For example, two Victim-Witness
Coordinators joined forces to help a woman from Iowa who was
carjacked by five armed perpetrators while visiting her pregnant
daughter in Arkansas. The U.S. Probation Officer who was
preparing the pre-sentence report realized that the mother was
suffering from extreme anxiety and fear as a result of the crime.
He contacted the Victim-Witness Coordinator in the Western
District of Arkansas, who then coordinated the case with the
Victim-Witness Coordinator from the Southern District of Iowa.
The victim needed in-patient evaluation and counseling due to a
suicidal risk. Crime victim compensation was requested from
Arkansas for the victim's medical and mental health expenses
incurred after she returned to Iowa. The victim's counseling
sessions, which are reimbursed by state crime victim compensation
funds, have allowed her to recognize and confront fears
associated with her attack.
Federal victim-witness personnel often work with victim-witness
coordinators from other jurisdictions to ensure that victims
continue to receive services once they leave the district in
which they were victimized. For example, while the U.S.
Attorney's office from Wyoming was prosecuting a kidnap/sexual
assault case, the victim wanted to return to her mother's home in
western Missouri. The Coordinator from Wyoming worked with the
Coordinator from Missouri to locate and coordinate appropriate
Victim-Witness Coordinators also work with colleagues from other
federal law enforcement agencies to ensure a continuity of
services to the victim throughout the criminal justice process.
For example, an FBI Victim-Witness coordinator called a federal
Victim-Witness Coordinator in another state to request assistance
with a family suffering from death threats associated with an FBI
investigation. The family wanted to escape the threat by
relocating. The federal coordinator was able to assist this
family and help ensure its safety.
Cases involving child victims present Victim-Witness Coordinators
with unique coordination challenges. The 1990 Victims of Child
Abuse Act amended the criminal code to improve the treatment of
child victims and to allow for important accommodations for
children in the courtroom.
One of these accommodations was the use of two-way closed-circuit
TV as an alternative to live, in-court testimony of a child
victim. Recently, the District of South Dakota needed to use
this special court accommodation in a case involving five
defendants and six severely abused child victims, ages 1-7.
Although the Victim-Witness Coordinator thoroughly prepared the
children for court and provided them with full-time security, the
children were so terrified of the offenders that they could not
speak in the open courtroom. The judge allowed the children to
testify over closed-circuit television.
Victim-Witness Coordinators have sought to accommodate child
victims in other ways as well. The District of New Mexico
purchased child-sized tables and chairs and a television and tape
player to furnish a child victim/witness interview and waiting
room for child victims. This allows children to feel more
comfortable in the official-looking surroundings of a U.S.
Attorney's office. In another instance, a Coordinator working on
a multiple child sexual abuse case on a military installation in
the Eastern District of California discovered that many of the
child victims had moved with their families to overseas
locations. The Coordinator worked with the prosecutor to have
the children's testimony, medical exams, and interviews completed
in their overseas locations instead of requiring them to return
to the U.S. The children and their families expressed
appreciation for the level of sensitivity accorded them by DOJ
officials. Upon the offender's conviction, one victim sent a
picture to the prosecutor with a caption stating, "Thank you for
Coordinators often develop strong bonds with child victims that
can help ensure justice and healing for the victim's entire
family. In one instance reported to OVC, while the Victim-Witness Coordinator from South Dakota was preparing a young
witness for her grand jury testimony regarding the sexual abuse
of her sister, the young witness disclosed her own sexual abuse
by the defendant. The grand jury was asked to wait while the
prosecutor and the coordinator interviewed the child and prepared
a superseding indictment against the offender. The defendant was
convicted at trial of both offenses.
OVC's grant programs and training and technical assistance efforts have truly made a difference in the response to and services for victims of federal crime. Statistics alone cannot adequately reflect the quality and complexity of the provision of victim and witness assistance. The anecdotal information in this chapter has been added to illustrate the successful efforts of the dedicated professionals who provide services to victims of federal crime. OVC will continue to address the on-going need for training of these professionals so that victims are treated with dignity and compassion and are assisted in their journey through the federal criminal justice system.
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