The National Center for Victims of Crime, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary. The Washington Post reports that it operates a hotline, maintains a network of 10,000 grass-roots organizations across the country, trains lawyers, offers referrals, conducts research into trends and patterns, and tracks and advocates legislation to help victims. The center’s agenda includes boosting victims’ compensation funds, strengthening domestic violence laws, tougher penalties against stalking and more legal focus on such issues as human trafficking, teen victimization, and elderly abuse.
The center’s new executive director, Mary Lou Leary, wants to push national political leaders to embrace a publicly financed system to compensate victims fully. She noted that billions of tax dollars are spent to convict offenders but relatively little on victims. “The more victims we meet, the more we understand just how much victims’ needs are not met,” Leary said. “Society pays if we don’t address the costs of victimization, in damages, lost jobs, medical problems, family problems, substance abuse, suicide attempts.”