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A New Era for Victims of Crime

With federal crime victim funding expected to nearly quadruple in the next fiscal year, states have begun to plan how to spend what amounts to an unexpected windfall. Under the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), all fines paid in federal criminal cases are set aside to help crime victims, but access to the funds every year was tightly limited until last December— when, as part of the federal budget deal, Congress approved a nearly fourfold increase from the most […]

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The Impact of Wrongful Convictions on Victims

The impact of wrongful convictions on crime victims can be “comparable to — or even worse than — that of their original victimization,” according to a new study funded by the federal National Institute of Justice. Researchers from ICF International conducted interviews with victims and other stakeholders involved in 11 cases of wrongful conviction for crimes including: rape, homicide, sexual assault, burglary, attempted homicide, and breaking and entering. Victims reported experiencing feelings of guilt, fear, helplessness, devastation and depression, according […]

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New Hope for Victims of Crime

Thanks to several great U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) annual studies, we know a lot about crime. But what do we know about crime victims? Who are they? What services do they need, which victims seek them, and what are the results? Which victims do not report crime—and why? Until we have clear answers to these questions—says a new report from DOJ's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), we can't give our nation's crime victims the support they need. The […]

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Putting a Human Face on Crime Stats

It has been a little more than three decades since the federal government issued its first major report on how to help crime victims. Last Friday night, the U.S. Justice Department unveiled “Vision 21”–a report laying out a pathway to meet the needs of victims in a “radically different way.” Now the question is whether policymakers on Capitol Hill and in state capitals will pay attention— in an era of strained government services and declining visibility for the nation’s crime […]

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Seeking Death Penalty in Aurora Shootings Is a Mistake

On July 20, 2012, James Holmes entered a packed movie theatre in Aurora, CO during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Fully armed, Holmes arbitrarily fired at the crowd. When he was done, 12 people were dead and 58 were injured. The police arrested Holmes on the scene, still armed and dressed in his Joker costume. Thus, the fact Holmes committed the shootings isn’t seriously in doubt. Realistically, the only possible defense available to him is a so-called […]

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The “Amazing, Unsung Work” of TX Police Crime Victim Unit

The Arlington, Tx., Police Department’s victim services unit the largest of its kind in North Texas, dwarfing its counterparts in Dallas and Ft. Worth, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The Arlington unit consoles and advises people traumatized by everything from headline-grabbing murders to garage break-ins. With 10 paid staffers, eight college interns — several from the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work — and three volunteers, it aided 13,043 people last year. Police spokeswoman Tiara Richard says […]