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The Civil Legal Needs of Victims of Crime in New York State: An Assessment of the Issues, Services, and Challenges in Meeting the Civil Legal Needs of Victims

NCJ Number
Date Published
64 pages
This report presents findings from two key components of a needs and systems assessment intended to identify gaps in civil legal services for crime victims in New York State.
The two key components of the needs assessment are surveys/focus groups with crime victims and victim service providers and interviews with civil legal attorneys and law clinic faculty. Four issues were examined in the needs assessment: 1) problems faced by crime victims in New York, with attention to civil legal needs; 2) the barriers for crime victims in seeking and receiving help; 3) the role that can be played by an online resource in addressing victim service gaps; and 4) the nature of existing gaps between victim services needed and the services available. The assessment found that most crime victims in New York State had faced problems related to finances, family, and housing. A high percentage reported needing guidance regarding what services are available and understanding the legal system. Many victims who did not seek help in dealing with their problems indicated they did not know what services were available or they did not believe anything could be done about their needs. Some barriers noted in seeking help were transportation, language, and cultural differences. The study determined that an online tool has promise in minimizing the impact of these barriers and meeting the civil legal needs of crime victims. Most victims indicated they would or might consider using an online tool, and most service providers reported they would be willing to refer their clients to an online network. Policy recommendations proposed include disseminating information about the online resource to first responders to crime victims and obtaining buy-in from local service providers so as to ensure legitimacy. 18 figures, 2 tables, and 37 references