Global Strategies for Implementation
Some of the recommendations from the field contained in New Directions may require amendments to existing State statutes or new legislative initiatives to enact certain rights for crime victims. The legislative strategies listed below provide just a few suggestions for using New Directions as a tool for public policy development, and as a reference point for entering the legislative arena.
Creation of a Legislative Agenda: New Directions can be used as a basis for assessing the strength and scope of current victims' rights within a State. By comparing a State's current legislative scheme with the comprehensive rights described in New Directions, policymakers and victims' rights advocates can assess gaps in existing laws. Through this process, New Directions provides a reliable basis for developing a public policy agenda. The first chapter of New Directions, entitled New Directions in Victims' Rights, provides a detailed review of comprehensive, innovative victims' rights laws that have been enacted across the Nation. This chapter has been published as an individual bulletin and can be distributed to policymakers. (For information about how to order copies of this bulletin, see the section entitled Overview of Guide & New Directions Resources.)
Information for Elected Officials: New Directions can serve as an entry point for requesting time with State House/Senate Judiciary Committee members to discuss the need for lawmakers to review existing victims' rights laws for enhancements or modifications based upon recommendations found within New Directions. (A sample letter to public officials is included in the section entitled Getting the Word Out About New Directions in this Implementation Guide.)
Reference Tool for Public Policy Debates: New Directions can also serve as a quick reference in public policy debates. For example, most victims' rights laws described in New Directions contain endnote citations to the specific number and names of States that have enacted such laws.
Development of Model Legislation: New Directions contains many examples of model statutes that have been enacted across the Nation to delineate and enhance victims' rights, with specific examples in both the text and endnotes. The States cited as models can serve as mentors to spur similar policy changes in other States in the drafting and enactment of similar legislation.
Establishment of Victims' Rights Policy Coalitions: New Directions can serve as the basis for creating victims' rights policy coalitions composed of a broad membership of victim activists, victim advocates, justice system representatives, and allied professionals who share a common interest of implementing the recommendations set forth in New Directions to enhance victims' rights. Coalitions can be formed to pass single legislative measures, or can become ongoing coalitions of crime victims, victim advocates, and justice officials as an undeniable force in all criminal and juvenile justice-related policy to the benefit of each constituency. Once established, such coalitions could expand their efforts beyond legislation to play a role in assessing and promoting implementation of victims' rights laws statewide.
Legislative Actions Within Professional Associations: Many local, State, and national associations with an interest in victim assistance and justice processes sponsor either public policy or victim issues committees. New Directions can be utilized as a guide for identifying legislative priorities and gaps in existing laws that should be filled to promote victim justice.