Promising Practices and Demonstration
To meet its mission of enhancing the Nation's capacity to assist victims, OVC funds the development of national training, technical assistance, and demonstration programs that promote best practices in meeting victims' needs. One area of focus is meeting the needs of underserved victim populations, including victims with disabilities, victims in Indian Country, and victims in rural areas. Another area is helping victims of telemarketing fraud, which includes an international component. Finally, OVC promotes overall strategies that are critical to the growth of victim services, such as the use of technology in creating a coordinated response to victims and making available specialized services such as those for sexual assault victims.
Practices in Serving Crime Victims With Disabilities
OVC has awarded funding to SafePlace, a domestic violence and sexual assault services center in Texas that created its Disability Services Program in 1996 to help 10 victim assistance organizations across the country develop promising practices and models for serving victims with disabilities. SafePlace competitively selected subgrantees to develop or enhance their ability to provide comprehensive, accessible services, and will provide funding and oversight, training, and technical assistance to the 10 program sites:
- Worcester, Massachusetts
- San Diego, California
- Ulster County, New York
- Doylestown, Pennsylvania
- Tallahassee, Florida
- Lafourche Parish, Louisiana
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Northhampton, Massachusetts
- Carbondale, Illinois
- Tucson, Arizona
For more details, visit the SafePlace Web site.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Mobile Unit
OVC provides strong leadership in promoting the development of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs and Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs), which profoundly improve the quality of care provided to sexual assault victims. To address the need for SANEs in rural areas, OVC funded the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) to assess the viability of a mobile SANE unit that would provide medical forensic services to sexual assault victims and to develop a project implementation plan. In Fiscal Year 2003, FRIS received a supplemental award to implement the project and conduct the following activities:
- Develop a strategic plan.
- Formalize memorandums of understanding with participating hospitals.
- Select the project's administrative body, and develop and deliver a series of training sessions for sexual assault advocates and SANEs participating in the project.
For more details, visit the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services Web site.
FBI International Telemarketing Fraud Victim
Assistance: The Canadian Eagle Initiative
With OVC support, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has assigned special agents to work directly with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian prosecutors in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto to advance interdiction efforts against fraudulent, Canada-based telemarketers who target victims in the United States. It is estimated that 80 percent of victims of Canada-based telemarketing fraud are U.S. citizens. The most vulnerable victims are the elderly, who may lose their lifetime savings and accumulate debt from which they will never recover. Perpetrators of these fraudulent schemes are known to circulate the names and personal information of "known" victims. These victims, who have already displayed a willingness to send money, are at a heightened risk for repeated victimization.
Since its inception in 1998, the initiative has been very successful. The FBI has uncovered a number of telemarketing and other fraudulent schemes and, in many cases, investigators have been able to recover victims' money. The FBI also notifies victims of their rights and provides information about how to avoid fraudulent schemes. Through the Canadian Eagle Initiative, the FBI strives to provide appropriate services to victims of telemarketing fraud, to reduce the number of persons revictimized, and to minimize the emotional and financial trauma experienced by these individuals. For more information, contact OVC's Federal Assistance Division at 2023075983.
Federal Symposium: Fourth National Symposium
on Victims of Federal Crime
Since 1997, OVC has supported a federal symposium to develop strategies that more effectively leverage resources across agencies to better serve victims of federal crime. The National Symposium is the most important training conference for victim assistance personnel working with victims of federal crime. The Fourth National Symposium on Victims of Federal Crime was held in March 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia. Its goals were to improve participants' effectiveness in assisting federal victims and, consequently, to enhance victim satisfaction with and participation in the criminal justice system. The symposium brought together about 700 individuals from diverse sectors of the federal and military criminal justice systems. Participants learned from national experts about the latest promising practices to help federal victims access and use services and resources. Some of the topics covered include:
- Fundamental victim services, communication skills, the Victim Notification System, and the Justice for All Act of 2004.
- The unique needs of particular victim populations.
- Interagency collaboration, program development, and legislation.
- Promising practices for cutting-edge issues, new technology, mentoring, and leadership.
Conference participants included federal victim assistance personnel from various agencies, including the FBI, the United States Attorneys' Office, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other Department of Justice agencies, as well as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of State. OVC is working with an advisory group to determine future training priorities for federal victim assistance. For more information, contact OVC's Federal Assistance Division at 2023075983.
District-Specific Training Program
The District-Specific Training Program helps U.S. Attorneys comply with federal victims' legislation and improve the response of federal criminal justice personnel to the rights and needs of victims of federal crime. The program provides skills-building training for tribal and federal criminal justice personnel and others who assist crime victims in Indian Country. For more details, visit the Executive Office for United States Attorneys Web site.
Treasury Offset Program
The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) supports (1) the efforts of U.S. Attorneys to collect money owed to the Federal Government and victims as the result of court-ordered criminal monetary impositions and (2) the addition of criminal debts to the program. The Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) has proposed that the Treasury Clerk's offices hold disbursements received into TOP for 6 months. Claims filed during this period would be paid from undisbursed TOP funds. Successful claims filed after the 6-month period would be paid with funds provided by OVC. Initially, three districts served as a pilot test by including identified criminal debt for those three districts in TOP. The pilot was successful; now 31 districts incorporate criminal debt information into TOP. As of June 2005, TOP incorporated 5,725 debts owed, amounting to $65,286,962. The debts currently accounted for are fines and assessments. Once EOUSA develops a memorandum of understanding with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the TOP program will add non-federal restitution debts.
Identifying promising practices in victims' rights and services is an important priority. OVC is committed to evaluating victim assistance efforts to determine the appropriateness of replicating these practices in other jurisdictions and disciplines. The agency continues to identify and cultivate new programs that address the needs of underserved victim populations. OVC also funds promising practices and demonstration projects that meet the needs of victims of child sexual abuse, homicide, elder abuse, gang violence, drunk driving, and terrorism. In addition, OVC has supported several cutting-edge initiatives intended to improve victim access to services, educate victims and allied professionals about victims' rights, and enhance the quality of services.