Grants and Projects
To find out more about current grants and projects click below:
Serving Survivors of Homicide Victims During Cold Case Investigations
Advancements in DNA technology and other investigative tools have enabled law enforcement agencies to reopen cases left dormant for years, if not decades. However, reopening cases can lead to re-traumatizing survivors if investigators are unaware of the issues affecting survivors during cold case investigations. Also, victim service providers may be unfamiliar with all the issues investigators face when working cold cases. And survivors of homicide victims may not want to cooperate with investigators because it is too painful to discuss their loved one who was murdered; or, they may have unrealistic expectations for the investigation because they feel their lives have been "on hold" since the loved one's murder. But if victim service programs and law enforcement agencies work hand-in-hand, survivors can get the supportive services they need and investigators the instructive knowledge they need during a cold case investigation. In partnership with the National Sheriffs' Association and the National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children, we will create a model protocol for law enforcement agencies on how they can best serve survivors of homicide victims during cold case investigations. To inform the development of the protocol, we will compile information and resources on existing efforts to include survivors of homicide victims in cold cases investigations, including surveying existing cold case units to determine the level and type of services provided to survivors during investigations and conducting a literature review of existing protocols and other informational materials on serving survivors of homicide victims during cold case investigations. We will convene a working group of law enforcement officials and victim service professionals with experience in working cold case investigations. The working group members will review the results of the survey and literature review and develop the outline for the protocol. We will promote the protocol to law enforcement agencies and victim service programs through workshops at national conferences, web sites, listservs, and articles.
National SAVIN Training and Technical Assistance Program
As the "threshold right" that allows victims access to virtually all other rights, the right to notice may be the most important victim right. Since 1994, Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (SAVIN) related technology has transformed a key tenet of crime victim assistance, combining victims' rights to information and notification and related victim assistance services with innovative technology. While great strides have been made to establish automated notification systems in many jurisdictions, many victims still languish without the benefit of this critical service. To reach the goal of universal coverage that ensures "every victim will get every notice every time," SAVIN systems need to be improved and expanded and new systems put in place where they currently do not exist. At the heart of both challenges is the need for information and expertise, i.e., training and technical assistance. We will be partnering with the National Criminal Justice Association, with support from the National Association of Victim Service Professionals in Corrections, the National Sheriffs' Association, the American Correctional Association, and the American Probation and Parole Association, to create a national SAVIN "one-stop shop" to meet the diverse spectrum of training and technical assistance needs of SAVIN programs. We will create a web site for SAVIN administrators; develop a peer-to-peer mentoring program; develop a cadre of subject matter experts who will provide technical assistance; hold a national workshop for SAVIN administrators; conduct workshops at national conferences; create two films that promote SAVIN services; develop a toolkit on outreach to victims and survivors; and work with states to establish SAVIN programs.
Oral History Project
The year 1972 is generally accepted as the genesis of the victims’ rights movement. Thirty years ago, three non-profit victim assistance organizations were founded and are still in existence today. Twenty years ago, the landmark President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime Final Report — which provided recommendations and a "map for the future" for the victim services field — was published by the U.S. Department of Justice. And, in 1983, the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice was created.
Many professionals and volunteers in the field — particularly those who have only been involved in the past decade — lack a true or deep understanding of the struggles that were faced two and three decades ago. As with many professions, this vital sense of history and the vision of the early pioneers in the victim services field are in jeopardy of being misunderstood at best, and forgotten at worst. By documenting our history, we can legitimize the victim assistance discipline as a true civil/social rights movement, and enhance its standing in the eyes of public policymakers, historians, academicians, and other leaders in our nation.
This project will be conducted in two phases. This first phase will involve the creation of two OVC Special Reports on the 30-year History of the Victims’ Rights Movement and the 20-year Anniversary of the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime Final Report. The second phase will involve interviewing up to 80 key individuals involved in the developing history of the movement. These interviews, and those conducted in the first phase, will be documented and archived in a university setting. During this 18-month grant, we will be interviewing individuals that cover the first 30 years of the victims’ rights movement. Once the interviews are conducted, documented, and archived, they will be easily accessed by a wide range of individuals, including: researchers, academicians; victim assistance practitioners; justice and allied professionals; Department of Justice officials; the news media; authors/writers; and students.
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National Public Awareness and Education Campaign
While the scope of rights and services available to crime victims is well known within the victims’ rights movement, the general public, justice and allied professionals, public policymakers, and other constituencies are barely aware of the more than 32,000 rights and 10,000 agencies in existence to assist crime victims. In addition to the lack of awareness, many of the grassroots victim service agencies lack the specific skills or time to properly promote their programs within their communities.
This project will develop and implement a strategy to increase awareness of victims’ issues, the role of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and the Crime Victims Fund in serving victims nationwide, and provide victim service agencies with the tools to help them carry out a local public awareness campaign. Highlights of this project include: developing the 2003 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide; developing awareness activities and supporting resources throughout 2003; creating national PSAs that can be aired by local agencies in their communities; and publishing an article about OVC, the Fund, and victims’ issues in a major national publication. The NCVRW Resource Guide offers service providers with suggestions and tools to promote victims’ rights issues during April. In addition to the NCVRW materials, we will be developing "mini" resource guides for eight other special commemorative weeks/months throughout the year. To help guide this process, we will be convening a roundtable meeting of representatives of key constituencies and OVC to identify core elements of a national public awareness and education campaign strategy. Justice Solutions is partnering with the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc., Victims’ Assistance Legal Organization, Superfine Films, and Equals Three Communications.
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Victim Services in Rural Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers are usually the very first point of contact for victims, and, in many instances, they are the persons that victims come to rely upon for assurance, support and guidance during the criminal justice process. Despite this very important responsibility, many law enforcement officers do not receive adequate training on how to assist crime victims. While this problem exists in all communities, it is more difficult to provide services to crime victims in rural communities. Resources are less abundant, geographical distances pose great problems, victims are more isolated, and professional training for law enforcement and advocates is unavailable.
In partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association, we will be creating the tools, and the capacity to assist interested rural law enforcement agencies in improving the delivery of services to crime victims. We will be establishing criteria to select worthy rural agencies who are interested in improving services to crime victims. We will define a process for planning the activities necessary to create or enhance victim assistance units. Much of the work will involve on-site technical assistance, training, and networking. The final product of this project will be the creation of both model programs and mechanisms to ensure that the lessons learned can be replicated in other rural communities.
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2003 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Victims’ Rights and Services Symposium
Many of the social movements in the United States have an annual event that brings together individuals affected by an issue or event and those that support the movement. For example, each May, National Police Week is held in Washington, D.C. During the week, National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day is held. During this time, those officers who died in the line of duty in the last year are honored and their names are inscribed into the Police Officers Memorial. It is a huge event, drawing thousands of individuals from around the country and internationally. There is no such event for crime victims. At the request of the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, Justice Solutions has been asked to convene a symposium in April of 2003, to begin the process of establishing an annual national event honoring crime victims. Working with our partners, the National Organization for Victim Assistance and the National Organization for Parents of Murdered Childen, Inc., we are beginning the process of designing the event. At this time, we anticipate the April 2003 symposium involving bringing together crime victims and service providers to help guide the development of a national event.
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