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Suggested Events To Promote New Directions

Launching A New Directions State
or Community Task Force

Establishing a New Directions Task Force:

The formation of a New Directions State or Community Task Force can be a highly effective and efficient tool to review the current status of a state or community in its provision of victims' rights and services. The information provided about task force development is offered as one vehicle to help bring key stakeholders together to begin to review current program services and victims' rights, and to compare them with the recommendations found within New Directions. In addition, these resources may be appropriate for implementation by individual agency- and discipline-specific organizations or professional groups.

New Directions Task Force Goals

The following sample goals for a New Directions Task Force provide a framework to begin addressing New Directions' five global challenges for responding to victims of crime well into the next century:

  • Identify and assess local, State, and regional governmental and nonprofit agencies and programs that currently provide services or support to crime victims to identify gaps in services.

  • Assess the comprehensiveness of victims' rights laws to determine the need for additional legislation or enhancement of current laws.

  • Evaluate and address compliance with victims' rights laws on State, Tribal, or local levels and within specific agencies.

  • Identify current funding opportunities and future funding possibilities.

  • Identify and assess all available victim assistance-related training programs, including continuing education opportunities, e.g., victim assistance standards and training programs, police academies, colleges and universities, professional associations and organizations, discipline-specific training conferences, etc.

  • Identify and determine appropriate replication of promising victim assistance practices and strategies highlighted in New Directions.

Task Force Membership

A New Directions Task Force should include a variety of participants who can bring insight, expertise, and change into their respective agencies, disciplines, or communities. When inviting persons to serve on the Task Force, consideration should be given to including a representative mix of the same professional discipline from local, county, State, and Federal levels. Representatives from Tribal and military communities should be involved where appropriate. In addition, consideration should be given to diversity by gender, culture, and geography. Suggestions for task force members include:

  • Prosecutors

  • Law enforcement officials

  • Prosecution-based victim assistance staff

  • Probation and parole officials

  • Judges

  • Court administrators

  • Elected State and county officials (Attorney General, State legislator, representative of the Governor, mayor, county commissioner, etc.)

  • School board officials (State or county superintendent, principal, PTA president, etc.)

  • Higher education representatives (chair of criminology department, law school professor, university public safety official, etc.)

  • Nonprofit community assistance programs representatives (domestic violence shelters and programs, adult and child sexual assault rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers, MADD, etc.)

  • State or local victim compensation program representative(s)

  • State Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) administrators

  • Legal community

  • State and county government agency representatives (Departments of Public Health, Mental Health, Health and Human Services, Aging, Social Security Administration, and Indian Health Services, etc.)

  • Health care representatives (doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, medical examiners, insurance company representatives, hospital social workers, etc.)

  • Mental health representatives (psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, etc.)

  • Business leaders (executive officers or owners of corporations or independently owned businesses, bank presidents, presidents of local business-related civic clubs, such as the Lion's Club, Rotarians, etc.)

  • Religious and faith community representatives (including members from a variety of denominations)

  • Chairpersons of current statewide victim or public safety-issue committees and task forces

  • Citizen/community action groups (neighborhood/community crime prevention programs, TRIAD, American Association of Retired Persons, etc.)

  • Media representatives (crime reporters, newspaper editors, and radio and television station general mangers, etc.)

  • Other professional associations representatives (State and county bar, health, mental health care, and educational associations, etc.)
New Directions Task Force Organizational Structure

One of the most effective methods to organize a New Directions Task Force is to create issue-specific subcommittees to review particular topics and to present their findings and recommendations to the larger Task Force for consideration or adoption. Subcommittee formation allows Task Force members to select issues related to their area of expertise so that substantial contributions can be made in a short period of time. Proposed New Directions Task Force subcommittees may include:

Public Awareness and Education Committee: Devises strategies to increase the public's awareness of issues facing crime victims, their rights to services and information, and how to publicize existing programs and services that assist and support victims.

Legislative Committee: Tracks State and Federal statutes pertaining to crime victims to alert interested parties of changes that may affect mandated programs and services and reviews the need to introduce new legislation or to modify existing laws based upon New Directions recommendations. (For suggested legislative strategies, please refer to the Global Strategies for Implementation section of this Guide.)

Implementation Committee: Devises strategies to implement proposed New Directions Task Force goals and recommendations.

Victim Assistance Committee: Tracks emerging trends in the delivery of services to crime victims; reviews current victim assistance programs to identify gaps in service; and develops and implements service programs to meet new or emerging victim assistance needs. (For suggested victim service strategies, please refer to the Global Strategies for Implementation section of this Guide.)

Training Committee: Identifies and reviews current victim assistance training programs and curricula, and develops strategies to establish or enhance training and educational opportunities.

Compliance Committee: Reviews mechanisms established to ensure compliance with State, Tribal, and Federal victims' rights laws, and where less than adequate, develops strategies to help increase compliance.

Releasing Findings of the New Directions Task Force

In addition to creating plans of actions, a New Directions Task Force can release final findings and recommendations to members of the criminal and juvenile justice community, public policymakers, and the community to help increase awareness about the devastating financial and emotional impact of crime on victims. New Directions Task Force members can release their findings in the form of an Executive Summary or a news media press release. Below is a list of suggested community or State representatives that should be provided with information about the final findings of the New Directions Task Force:

  • Local, State, and regional print and broadcast media

  • Local and State elected officials

  • Professional associations

  • State and local bar associations

  • Allied criminal justice professionals

  • Governmental agencies with mandates to provide victim assistance services

  • Nonprofits and other community-based programs that provide direct services to crime victims

  • Chairs of current statewide victim or public safety-issue committees and task forces

  • Participants at victim- and justice-related State, Tribal, and local conferences

New Directions from the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century
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