The fates of crime survivors have largely not been part of the ongoing reckoning with criminal justice policy and gun violence, says The New Yorker. For most of the past three decades, crime victims' stories have often been invoked in public forums—courtrooms, newsrooms, and congressional hearings—to urge a “tough on crime” agenda, including the push for stricter sentencing laws. Recently, a loose network of gun-crime victims, as well as men and women who've survived sexual assault, violent robberies, and other violations of the social contract—what we might call a new crime-survivors movement—have emerged with an alternative policy vision. Among its champions is Danielle Sered of Common Justice, a restorative-justice and victim-services group based in Brooklyn.
Last year, Sered published a report, through the Vera Institute of Justice, called “Young Men of Color and the Other Side of Harm: Addressing Disparities in Our Responses to Violence.” It gives the reasons for her organization's pioneering efforts to provide community-based support to young men of color who've been harmed by violence. Sered observes that, while more Americans are taking note of “the disproportionate involvement of young men of color in the criminal-justice system as those responsible for crime,” there remains a large gap in the picture. “Still missing,” she writes, “is the recognition that these young men are also disproportionately victims of crime and violence.” In its 2015 budget, Congress took a major step toward the movement's goals, allocating an unprecedented $1.6 billion for crime survivors. The money was pledged through the long-standing Victims of Crime Act. This news comes with a sizeable challenge. The funds will be doled out state by state, to agencies currently working with crime victims.