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Including Victims in the American Criminal Justice Process (From Resource Material Series No. 56, P 190-203, 2000, Hiroshi Iitsuka and Rebecca Findlay-Debeck, eds. -- See NCJ-191475)

NCJ Number
Heather L. Cartwright
Date Published
December 2000
14 pages
This paper examines the nature and enforcement of crime victims' rights in the American criminal justice process.
In America, the States have been the leaders in framing and implementing victims' rights when compared with the Federal Government. States have jurisdiction over all crimes that occur in the State; whereas, the Federal system encompasses only certain limited crimes, usually those that have an impact beyond a single State. Laws that define victims' rights may encompass some or all of the following: the right to be informed about significant matters in case processing; the right to attend the trial; the right to make a statement at sentencing, parole hearing, pretrial release hearings, and plea bargain acceptance proceedings; the right to confer with the prosecutor; the right for child victims/witnesses to receive enhanced protection; restitution; and the right to protection from the offender. States and the Federal Government have struggled with ensuring compliance with the victims' rights laws. Two unique State programs, the audit program and the ombudsman program, offer some ideas about how to encourage compliance. This paper describes how the audit program works in Arizona. Examples of a compliance committee or ombudsman are described for Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Also discussed are victim assistance professionals and the work of the Federal Office for Victims of Crime.