Letter - Reaching every victim of crimeApril 22 marked the beginning of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor victims and our nation’s progress in advancing their rights. This year’s theme – Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim – celebrates the vision behind that progress and the ideal of serving all victims of crime.
To the editor:
April 22 marked the beginning of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor victims and our nation’s progress in advancing their rights. This year’s theme – Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim – celebrates the vision behind that progress and the ideal of serving all victims of crime.
The vision that launched the victims’ rights movement emerged more than 30 years ago. Then – as now – crime victims endured physical and emotional wounds, costly financial burdens, an often hostile criminal justice systems and an alarming public tendency to blame them for the crimes against them. Victims were often excluded from courtrooms, disrespected by officials and afforded few rights.
Since the 1980s, the nation has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections, and services for victims of crime. Every state has enacted victims’ rights laws, and 32 states have Constitutional victims’ rights amendments. All states have victim compensation funds and more than 10,000 victim service agencies have been established throughout the county.
Yet there’s still much to be done. Victims’ rights are not universal and are often not enforced. Only a fraction of victims receive crime victim compensation, which is usually limited to victims of violent crime. More than 50 percent of crimes are not reported and fewer than 20 percent of victims receive needed services. The victim services system is at times fragmented and uncoordinated and agencies are struggling to keep their doors open in the face of budget cuts.
Victim advocates have not lost their resolve. “Our commitment to ‘extend the vision and reach every victim’ will overcome every challenge that confronts us now,” said Joyce E. Frost, acting director, Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. “The vision, determination and passion for justice that inspired our history will help us transform the future for every victim of crime.”
Editor’s note: Someplace Safe is dedicated to helping all victims of all crimes. It’s a non-profit organization working to eliminate violence in West Central Minnesota and beyond, providing services to victims and survivors of crime, and their families, in safe, nonjudgmental environments. Programming includes: 24-hour crisis line (1-800-974-3359); emergency shelter for women and children; domestic abuse; sexual assault and general crimes advocacy; parenting time centers for parent-child exchanges and supervised visitation; and a thrift store. For additional information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and how to help victims, contact Someplace Safe at (320) 762-1995, or visit someplacesafe.info.