With nearly 6 million violent victimizations each year in the U.S., the nation needs “to permanently alter the way we treat victims of crime in America,” the U.S. Department of Justice said today.
In what it called a “framework” to a long-awaited report called “Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services,” the department said a “comprehensive and systemic approach” is needed in “how we meet victims’ needs and how we address those who perpetrate crime.”
Vision 21 was discussed on Capitol Hill at an event with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) during National Crime Victims Week, which is being marked through Saturday.
The Justice Department had said it would issue the full Vision 21 report today but then said it was making public only a summary of it.
In meetings with crime victim advocates and others to mark the 30th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, the Justice Department determined that it is time for a “renewed assessment of the state of victims’ services.”
Today’s summary noted that while violent crime rates overall are decreasing, some new types of crime are rising or just being discovered, including crime in cyberspace, human trafficking, crimes against the elderly and those with disabilities.
“A staggering 42 percent of victims never report serious violent crime to law enforcement,” the department said.
“We need to know why.”
Advocates also reported a “maze of overlapping, complex legal issues facing victims.”
A single incident can involve immigration status, civil legal assistance, administrative law remedies, and civil-rights enforcement.
Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington DC bureau chief of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers.