National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Written by: Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children's Advocacy Center

April 8-14 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the U.S. Sometimes we observe this week without focusing on the rights of crime victims. One of the cornerstones of crime victims; rights is the Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which affords crime victims the following rights:

1. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.

2. The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.

3. The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.

4. The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.

5. The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the government in the case.

6. The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.

7. The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.

8. The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.

9. The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement.

10. The right to be informed of the rights under this section and the services described in section 503(c) of the Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 10607(c)) and provided contact information for the Office of the Victims' Rights Ombudsman of the Department of Justice.

The Vision 21: Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth project, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, aligns itself with these rights and is seeking to assure that all child and youth victims of crime are identified, supported, and connected with appropriate services. This is being done in the four demonstration states (Illinois, Ohio, Montana, and Virginia) with support from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Too often crime victims become a case or a number, but we must listen to crime survivors to protect their rights and to ensure they receive the services and supports they need. It is our hope that every state will review and utilize the lessons learned through the Vision 21: Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth approach in the coming years to expand the circle and reach all victims.