As more crime victims exercise their rights and seek services, state Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) crime victim compensation and assistance administrators and victim service providers are challenged to assess victim needs, allocate available resources effectively, and advocate for additional resources. Since the 1986 infusion of federal VOCA funds, many victim service programs have been established and preexisting ones have grown. During the past 15 years, state legislatures have raised funding for crime victim compensation and assistance, increasing the money available to victims and victim services. At the same time, field reports indicate that obtaining sufficient funds is a continuing challenge as we reach out to previously unserved victims.
Because of its growth, the victim service field is improving its administrative and management skills. Calls from policymaking bodies and the public for accountability on the use of public funds have led to an examination of tools that can support data-driven decisionmaking and outcome evaluation. To provide state administrators and victim service providers with one such tool for assessment, planning, and operations, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has partnered with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS), formerly the Crime Mapping Research Center, to introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to the victim service field.
GIS technology can help analyze information, such as types of crime by location, victim population groups served and underserved, and the location of victim service organizations and their geographic service areas. This information can be used to examine the availability of basic services and the sufficiency of services for specialized population groups. It can visually display multiple funding sources in a geographic area to help in fair distribution of resources. It can be extremely useful in developing strategic program and financial plans for the maintenance and development of victim services.
OVC is honored to work with NIJ to publish this valuable report. We also wish to extend our appreciation to individuals in the states and municipalities that provided the data used to create maps for this report. Our hope is that you will find GIS and this report useful in your efforts to advance crime victim services.
John W. Gillis, Director