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Victims of Crime

This page provides an overview of victims of crime information and resources. For more specific information concerning specific Victims of Crime topics - see the specific pages for Child Abuse and Neglect, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Juvenile Justice, and Elder Abuse. For more specific information concerning specific Victims of Crime programs - see Violence Against Indian Women, Tribal CJA Resources, and Tribal Court CASA.

Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men - 2010 Findings From the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey examines the prevalence of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men, using a large nationally representative sample from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). More specifically, it provides estimates of sexual violence, physical violence by intimate partners, stalking, and psychological aggression by intimate partners. It also provides estimates of interracial and intraracial victimizations and briefly examines the impact of violence. Results should be used to raise awareness and understanding about violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men.

Two divisions of the U.S. Justice Department focus on victims of crime issues: the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) was established by the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to oversee diverse programs that benefit victims of crime. OVC provides substantial Funding to State Victim Assistance and Compensation Programs—the lifeline services that help victims to heal. The agency supports Trainings designed to educate criminal justice and allied professionals regarding the rights and needs of crime victims. OVC also sponsors an annual event in April to commemorate National Crime Victims Rights Week (NCVRW). OVC is one of five bureaus and four offices with grant-making authority within the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. OVC's Divisions and Units include Terrorism and International Victims Unit (TIVU); Technical Assistance, Publications, and Information Resources Unit(TAPIR); Federal Assistance Division (FCVD); State Compensation and Assistance Division (SCAD); and Special Projects Division (SPD). For more information concerning OVC - see the OVC Fact Sheet What is the Office for Victims of Crime. For more information concerning crime victims - see What You Can Do If You Are a Victim of Crime.

Violence Against Women Office (OVW)

Since its inception in 1995, the Violence Against Women Office, now the Office on Violence Against Women (the Office) has handled the Department’s legal and policy issues regarding violence against women, coordinated Departmental efforts, provided national and international leadership, received international visitors interested in learning about the federal government’s role in addressing violence against women, and responded to requests for information regarding violence against women. The Office works closely with other components of OJP, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Immigration and Naturalization Office, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and state, tribal and local jurisdictions to implement the mandates of the Violence Against Women Act and Subsequent Legislation. Under the violence against women Grant Programs administered by the Department of Justice, the Office has awarded more than $1 billion in grant funds, making over 1,250 discretionary grants and over 350 STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) formula grants to the states and territories. These grant programs help state, tribal, and local governments and community-based agencies to train personnel, establish specialized domestic violence and sexual assault units, assist victims of violence, and hold perpetrators accountable. More than 6,500 STOP subgrants have supported community partnerships among police, prosecutors, victim advocates, and others to address violence against women.

National Crime Victim Law Institute

Established in 2000, the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) is committed to the enforcement and protection of victims' rights in the criminal justice system. It is the only organization of its kind in the United States. Over the last decade there has been a new interest in victims' rights, leading to a flood of legislation and state constitutional amendments. Historically, however, there has been little academic attention paid to this rapidly growing area of the law, and no academic institution has undertaken a focused effort to study and enhance the effectiveness of victim rights laws. The legal education of law students, practitioners and judges is a critical need. NCVLI is helping to incorporate the topic of crime victim law into law school curriculum. Additionally, NCVLI is meeting the needs of practicing attorneys, judges, and advocates who work with victims in the field by providing information, research, and legal analysis about victim laws. NCVLI's Executive Director, Doug Beloof, has authored the casebook, Victims in Criminal Procedure, the first casebook to be published in this area of law. NCVLI is also working to develop a library collection of victim rights materials to serve as a national resource. The law school’s library will be an archive for historical documents and will hold an extensive collection of victim material. As a component of the information gathering process, the Institute is developing the National Crime Victim Law Database as an Internet site, which will be equally accessible to lawyers, scholars and grassroots activists. The database will contain information regarding statutes, cases and briefs concerning victims in criminal law and procedure in the United States and, eventually, around the world. The goal of this database is to provide free access to state and federal crime victim laws. Through legal education, scholarship, information resources and legal advocacy, NCVLI actively promotes balance and fairness in the justice system. The NCVLI site includes web pages on Violence Against Women Project; Crime Victim Litigation Clinic; National Crime Victims Rights Amendment; National Alliance of Victims Rights Attorneys; Victim Law Litigation Topics; and Resources.

Selected Publications concerning Victims of Crime in Indian Country

  1. Victim Rights in Indian Country - an Assistant United States Attorney Perspective, by Christopher Chaney, discusses the implications of various laws and prosecution principles and how they affect cases. There are jurisdictional principles that govern Indian country criminal prosecutions. For example, the Major Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1153) and the Indian Country General Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1152) provide the jurisdictional basis for most federal prosecutions of criminal offenses which occur in Indian country (18 U.S.C. § 1151). There are evidentiary principles and constitutional principles that govern all federal criminal prosecutions. In addition to all of this, there are established principles which apply when dealing with victims and witnesses of federal crime.
  2. Final Report of the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime - President Ronald Reagan created the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982 to address the needs of the millions of Americans and their families who are victimized by crime every year. In creating its report, the task force reviewed the available literature on criminal victimization, interviewed professionals responsible for serving victims, and spoke with citizens from around the country whose lives have been altered by crime.
  3. Law Enforcement Protocol Guide: Sexual Assault (Including a Model Sexual Assault Protocol) was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in conjunction with Southwest Center for Law and Policy as a tool for improving the investigation of sexual assault crimes. Effective investigations increase the likelihood of victim participation and increase the probability of convictions in tribal, state, and/or federal courts. This guide focuses on the development of an internal protocol for law enforcement. A law enforcement protocol can enhance the efforts of all community agencies in addressing sexual violence.
  4. Prosecutor Protocol Guide: Sexual Assault (Including a Model Sexual Assault Protocol) was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in conjunction with Southwest Center for Law and Policy as a tool for improving the prosecution of sexual assault crimes. Holding offenders accountable for their actions is a key part of making your community safe. This publication is designed to help your prosecutor’s office ensure consistency and compassion for all survivors. This guide focuses on the development of an internal protocol for tribal prosecution. A prosecutor protocol can enhance the efforts of all community agencies in addressing sexual violence.
  5. American Indians and Crime: A BJS Statistical Profile, 1992-2002 summarizes data on American Indians in the criminal justice system and reports the rates and characteristics of violent crimes experienced by American Indians. This report updates a previous BJS report, American Indians and Crime, published in 1999. The findings include the involvement of alcohol, drugs, and weapons in violence against Indians. The report describes victim-offender relationships, the race of those involved in violence against Indians, and the rate of reporting to police by victims. It discusses the rates of arrest, suspect investigations and charges filed, and incarceration of Indians for violent crimes.
  6. American Indians and Crime, 1992-2002 summarizes data on American Indians in the criminal justice system and reports the rates and characteristics of violent crimes experienced by American Indians. This report is an update of the 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics with increased coverage of crimes which occur in Indian country. The report found that the rate of violent victimization, estimated from responses by American Indians, is well above that of other U.S. racial or ethnic subgroups and is more than twice as high as the national average.
  7. Victim Services: Promising Practices in Indian Country (2004) is an OVC monograph  produced by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute that describes promising practices for assisting victims of violence and abuse in twelve Indian Country locations throughout the United States. Each description includes the program’s keys to success, relevant demographic data, and a contact for further information.
  8. Victims of Crime: Issues in Indian Country, by Cathy Sanders, highlights the duties of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) which has focused discretionary Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds on improving services for federal victims of crime in Indian country.
  9. Domestic Violence and Tribal Protection of Indigenous Women in the United States, by Gloria Valencia-Weber and Christine P. Zuni
    The essential Navajo value is that while men and women are distinct, they relate as complementary equals. That kind of relationship creates, or should create, an environment that views violence toward women as deviant behavior. Under Navajo common law, violence toward women, or mistreatment of them in any way, is illegal ...
  10. Bitter Earth: Child Sexual Abuse in Indian Country (September 1999) is an OVC discussion guide (NCJ 179105) that is an educational tool to increase the awareness of child sexual abuse in Indian Country among community members and non-Indian service providers. It provides a basis for discussion of this problem among members of tribal and American Indian organizations, tribal court and law enforcement personnel, victim advocates, child welfare and human services professionals, and community organizations. The guide accompanies the Bitter Earth: Child Sexual Abuse in Indian Country video (NCJ 144998). Ordering information
  11. Child Victims, New Directions from the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century (August 1998) is an OVC Bulletin (NCJ 172827) that is a reprint of a chapter in New Directions and deals specifically with promising practices and recommendations related to child victims. An executive summary and 17 other Bulletins complete the set.
  12. Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities (June 2003) is a fact sheet (FS 000303) that describes an OVC grant program that provides funds and technical assistance to improve the capacity of existing tribal systems to handle serious child abuse cases, particularly cases of sexual abuse.
  13. I'm Going to Federal Court with Mark & Julie (1997) is an OVC activity book (PDF only) includes pages to color, games, puzzles, and information to teach child witnesses about the court experience they face. The book is a companion piece to the video Inside Federal Court (September 1995; NCJ 157156), which also instructs children and their families about the court process to build confidence and reduce anxiety about testifying. PDF (10.3 mb)
  14. Improving Tribal/Federal Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse Cases Through Agency Cooperation (September 1999) is an OVC bulletin (NCJ 172877) that encourages close cooperation between tribal and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases. Employing multiagency protocols and teams, for instance, helps address the jurisdictional overlap and confusion in oversight that often leads to multiple investigations and child interviews, which result in unnecessary victim trauma. HTML, ASCII (30 kb), or PDF (89 kb)
  15. Learning All About Court With "B.J.": An Activity Book for Children Going to Federal or Tribal Court (September 1997) is an OVC activity book (NCJ 167252) that contains games, puzzles, and information designed to instruct children on the jobs performed by tribal and federal court personnel. The activity book uses the same characters as and is designed to accompany the video B.J. Learns About Federal and Tribal Court (NCJ 139730). PDF (12 mb)
  16. OVC National Directory of Victim Assistance Funding Opportunities 2001 (September 2001) is an OVC resource directory (NCJ 189218) that lists by state and territory the contact names and information for federally funded crime victim assistance programs and includes particulars on grant programs that help state and local agencies prepare for and respond to incidents of domestic terrorism and criminal mass casualty.
  17. Specific Justice Systems and Victims' Rights: Tribal Justice, National Victim Assistance Academy 2002 emphasizes foundations in victimology and victims' rights and services, as well as new developments in the field of victim assistance, and contains a section on Tribal Justice.

American Indian/Alaska Native Criminal Justice Publications

  • American Indians and Crime [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Capital Punishment 2000 [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [HRRPT]
  • Cultural Practices in American Indian Prevention Programs [HTML]
  • Hate Crimes Reported in NIBRS, 1997–99 [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Jails in Indian Country, 2001 [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Jails in Indian Country, 2000 [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Jails in Indian Country, 1998 and 1999 [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Policing on American Indian Reservations [PDF] [ASCII]
  • Prevention Through Empowerment in a Native American Community [HTML]
  • Report of the Executive Committee for Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvements [HTML]
  • Violent Victimization and Race, 1993–98 [PDF] [ASCII]


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