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New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century - Victim Assistance Community

NCJ Number
Date Published
32 pages
While several victim assistance programs were established in the United States in the 1970s, the victim assistance movement began in earnest in the early 1980s with the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime and related developments.
In the 1980s, major strides were made in local communities by volunteers who were victims or survivors of crime and who were motivated by the inadequate response of the criminal justice system in the aftermath of their victimization. Also in the 1980s, national victim advocacy and assistance organizations were established, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The 1982 President's Task Force on Victims of Crime provided leadership at a critical time for the victim assistance field. This task force highlighted the lack of services for victims and underscored the need for all criminal justice system participants to respond sensitively to victims. Another development shaping the victim assistance field was the 1984 Victims of Crime Act. The victim assistance movement has grown rapidly into a full-fledged advocacy and service field dedicated to meeting physical, financial, and psychological needs of victims and their families. More than 10,000 programs now provide support and assistance to victims in the aftermath of crime. Public awareness of the need for victim assistance has increased, victim assistance services have expanded, and communities have begun to effectively respond to the needs of crime victims. The progress made in the victim assistance field is considered in relation to cultural diversity and needs of victims with disabilities and in relation to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, drunk driving crashes, stalking, gang violence, hate and bias crimes, and white-collar crimes and fraud. Ways of enhancing victim assistance services, especially through technology, are noted. Recommendations for improving victim assistance services are offered. 62 endnotes

Date Published: January 1, 1998