Chapter Three


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 national park.

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 1993.

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 federal crimes.

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 victims.


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.


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 Act include:

(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 place.

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 judicial proceedings.

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.

Chart 9

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 assistance programs.

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 Personnel

OVC provides federal criminal justice personnel with numerous training opportunities on effective intervention techniques with crime victims.

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 FBI to:

develop an implementation plan that complies with requirements of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance;

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 Coordinators.

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, and

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 EOUSA.

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 attend.

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 personnel.

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 the questionnaire.

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 Report.

Table 4: Best Efforts Report Data, FY 1992 and FY 1994

CategoryFY 92 Best Efforts ReportFY 94 Best Efforts Report

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 percent.

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 EOUSA.

Impact Statements

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 its inevitability."

Compensation Claims

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.

Multi-Agency Coordination

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 counseling services.

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.

Child Victims

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 helping me."

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.

Back to Report to Congress

Archive iconThe information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.