Chapter Five


VOCA has improved the ability of federal and state governments to provide services and information to crime victims and those who work with them through the dissemination of diverse materials. Final products from VOCA-funded grant projects, including curricula, videotapes, and brochures, provide victim advocates and victims themselves with crucial information.

Dissemination of this information is usually accomplished through the Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center, OVC's clearinghouse in Rockville, Maryland. Other information is disseminated through VOCA-funded grants, training and technical assistance programs, as well as through hundreds of OVC responses to correspondence from victims.

OVC Resource Center

In accordance with the recommendation of the 1982 President's Task Force on Victims of Crime, OVC established a resource center in 1984 to "... encourage continued progress in the victims rights movement and to create an inventory of programs, research, and dissemination of information on victims of crime."

Currently, the OVC Resource Center (OVCRC) serves a broad constituency of people and organizations with professional, academic, and advocacy-related interests in the welfare of crime victims. These include victim service providers, law enforcement agencies, clergy, prosecutors, health care practitioners, legislators, researchers, and victims themselves. Many requests come from foreign countries. In any given month, OVC Resource Center staff responds to a wide variety of requests, including:

The legislative aide of a Congressman requested a copy of OVC's "National Bias Crimes Training for Law Enforcement and Victim Assistance Professionals" curriculum for use in his district.

A staff member with a national prosecutors' organization requested a selection of documents for dissemination at the organization's annual conference.

The Assistant Director of a municipal police training academy requested copies of the "In Crime's Wake" training videotape to be used for professional training at the academy.

A practitioner requested information on domestic violence, to be used for a community needs assessment project being conducted by a county Board of Health and the local university.

A local victim service provider requested confirmation of a statistic on child abuse that she found suspect. The statistic was determined to be false, the result of a misquote that was widely reprinted in the media and in literature on the subject. The service provider eliminated the statement from a brochure that her agency produced.

OVCRC uses an array of resources to respond to these and other requests, including fact sheets, information directories, topical information packages, reading and referral lists, topical data base searches, videotapes, and CD-ROMs.

OVCRC provides timely and relevant information for research, advocacy, policy, program, and legislative support. This information includes statistics; promising programs and protocols; grant-funding sources; and local, state, and national referrals to professional organizations that serve. OVCRC also provides information to professional conferences, training programs, and commemorative events, such as National Crime Victims Rights Week activities.

As a component of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), OVCRC shares information resources with all Office of Justice Programs (OJP) clearinghouse programs, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA); Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS); National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). A sixth clearinghouse program, representing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), was added in 1994. Specialized information developed by each of these component clearinghouses allows OVCRC to greatly enhance its response to any victim-related question.

A premier feature of the NCJRS clearinghouse programs is the NCJRS library collection, housed in the NCJRS Research and Information Center. The largest criminal justice reference collection in the world, it includes more than 9,000 victim-related documents and audiovisual pieces. The entire collection has been abstracted and can be "searched" electronically by an OVCRC information specialist in a way that is specific to the user's interests. Prepared topical searches and topical bibliographies drawn from these abstracts are also available through the OVCRC. Subjects include battered women, child abuse, bias-related violence, homicide victims, sexual abuse and assault, victimization of older Americans, victim compensation, and family violence.

OVCRC added an important new dimension to its information capabilities in 1994 when it went "online" through NCJRS. Users can now obtain current criminal justice and victims' information electronically by way of the NCJRS Gopher, NCJRS World Wide Web page, NCJRS Anonymous FTP site, Justice Information (JUST INFO) Electronic Newsletter, and the NCJRS Bulletin Board System (NCJRS*BBS). Users can also query OVCRC information specialists directly through the Internet using the Ask NCJRS feature. By these new means, victim-related information is now available from OVCRC around the world, twenty-four hours a day.

The OVC Resource Center can be reached at (800) 627-6872 via telephone,, via the Internet, and

In 1994, OVCRC distributed nearly 36,000 documents in response to phone and mail inquiries and targeted mailing efforts requested by OVC.


As described in Chapter 4, OVC provides funding for a wide range of training and technical assistance conferences across the country. Some of these conferences focus on a particular subject area while others address a variety of issues within a given geographic region. OVC also supports national-scope conferences, such as the annual conference of the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

With document support from the OVC Resource Center, information is disseminated on a range of victim issues at many of these conferences. The conferences often provide training based on the findings and products developed in earlier phases of OVC grants.


Videotapes can provide brief but effective introductory training and technical assistance, as well as provide basic information to crime victims and victim advocates. In recent years, VOCA has supported the development of videotapes that assist victims of federal crime and federal law enforcement officials. Each year, VOCA funds are set aside to reproduce, develop, and disseminate these materials. Videotapes that are available through the OVC Resource Center include:

B.J. Learns About Federal and Tribal Court -- A Video. Produced by the District of Arizona with VOCA funds, this culturally-sensitive, 10-minute film answers frequently asked questions of Native American child victims who are required to testify in either tribal or federal court. Approximately 700 films and Instructor's Guides were distributed to appropriate tribal, federal, state and local agencies across the country.

Financial Assistance for Crime Victims: Through VOCA funding, the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards produced a 16-minute video that explains crime victim compensation programs to Native American populations. The video was distributed to crime victim compensation programs in states with Indian tribes.

Inside Federal Court: Developed by the U. S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Indiana, with funding from the Crime Victims Fund, "Inside Federal Court," explains to children ages 10 and older their role as a witness in federal court. It features an introduction by Attorney General Reno and narration by two teenage reporters who help educate their viewers about what to expect when going to federal court. The video was distributed by OVCRC to U.S. Attorneys' Offices nationwide as well as to litigating agencies within the Department of Justice.

Bitter Earth-Child Sexual Abuse in Indian Country: This film is intended for tribal leaders and tribal personnel who work on a daily basis to prevent, investigate or otherwise handle child sexual abuse at the tribal level. A Discussion Guide is distributed with the video to appropriate tribal, federal, state and local agencies.

Resource Package for Children Required to Testify in Federal Court: This project, awarded in FY 1994, will assist child victims and witnesses of federal crimes to participate in the federal criminal justice system. The project will develop and print four separate camera-ready booklets as part of a child victim assistance resource package for distribution to federal criminal justice personnel. The package will be used to help alleviate the trauma commonly experienced by children required to testify in federal court, and to improve the response of federal and tribal criminal justice personnel to the rights and needs of such children.

Brochures and Materials

Through a series of Interagency Agreements, VOCA funds supported the production of thousands of victim-witness assistance brochures, which are given by various federal law enforcement agencies to crime victims. Both the Department of Interior and the Department of the Navy used VOCA funding to print and distribute brochures. Other agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the FBI have developed similar brochures in the past. These brochures contain the most recent statutory changes regarding the federal rights of crime victims.

With VOCA funding, the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB) produced a special brochure for distribution to military installations. This brochure explains state crime victim compensation programs for crime victims residing on military bases.

In FY 1994, an interagency agreement was awarded to the Medical University of South Carolina to develop resource packages for children required to testify in federal court. These resource packages will be distributed to federal criminal justice personnel to aid their efforts to assist child victims and witnesses of federal crime. Each resource package will include four separate camera-ready booklets and other victim assistance materials.

The Future

VOCA funding will permit OVC to continue to seek ways to disseminate more information to the field by as many means possible. Through the OVC Resource Center, VOCA has permitted OVC to begin exploring information dissemination through the Internet and the World Wide Web. OVCRC will begin posting more facts, figures, and materials regarding a variety of victims' issues on the Internet to allow a broader audience to have continuous access to the information.

OVC intends to fund additional videotapes in the near future, including ones that describe the criminal justice system to crime victims; victim issues for parole boards; and multicultural issues for victim service providers. In addition, OVC is funding a videotape and several public service announcements regarding crime victim compensation.

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