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, firstname.lastname@example.org., via the Internet, and
In 1994, OVCRC distributed nearly 36,000 documents in response to
phone and mail inquiries and targeted mailing efforts requested
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
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
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
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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