1-1 Discussion: Victim Rights

Review the Crime Victim’s Right Act and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Select a state from Victims’ Rights Laws resources listed in the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) site. Summarize how the federal laws compare. Do you find the existing state law compliments federal law or is there different context? Are the protections equivalent? I live in new york city To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document. Rubrics https://law.lclark.edu/centers/national_crime_victim_law_institute/professional_resources/ncvli_library/ https://ovc.ojp.gov/topics/victim-rights-and-services What and Who is a Victim? What is a victim? For many people it means many different things, and this class will explore the varied aspects of this word. The Department of Justice defines “Victim” under the purposes of the Justice For All Act as: A victim is “a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a Federal offense or an offense in the District of Columbia.” § 3771(e). The “directly and proximately” language mirrors the language of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2). However, it expands the definition of victim in 42 U.S.C. § 10607, “Services to Victims,” which allows such services only for those who suffered “direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm” (42 U.S.C. § 10607(e)(2)). This is a brief yet complex definition. A more concise definition is: someone or something harmed, injured, hurt, or killed by someone or something. A victim can be anyone that is either directly or indirectly affected by someone or something that caused harm in some way. There are adult or child victims that are harmed directly. Animals and family members of victims may also be considered victims in the eyes of the court. On rare occasions, the court may find that people can be harmed indirectly if they are a witness to victims being harmed. A good example of this might be a child that witnesses the physical abuse of one parent by another. There are many facets of becoming a victim. This person can be impacted by many factors that have contributed to victim status. In our society, the news reports on victims and statistics constantly. But who or what entity specifically defines victim status? Is it the court, community, themselves, family, and law enforcement? In many cases, it can be any or a combination of all the above. Ultimately though, it is the court which makes the formal determination which defines: Who is the victim? What crime has been committed against this individual? Is compensation or restitution required? The four major case classifications that the court and law enforcement typically consider are: Domestic violence Homicide Property crimes Child/Elderly abuse and neglect It is important to note for purposes of this course that many different types of victims will be explored in order to build greater understanding in context of victimology. History of Victimology “Victimology,” a branch of criminology, is the study of crime victims; the psychological affects those victims experience, their relationship with the offender, and the resulting interactions in the criminal justice system. Victimology philosophy has continued to evolve since its creation in the 1950s. This is especially true in the approach that law enforcement departments and courts employ in issues surrounding victim safety. It is unfortunate that several of the landmark cases that facilitated these change have not had positive endings. Many times, the victim was killed or severely harmed. Increasingly, victims, victim families, and other advocacy groups work within the system to increase awareness and help shape legislation. Significant changes have occurred within the criminal justice system surrounding these efforts. Several of these cases have set precedents: Baker v. The City of New York, 269 N.Y.S.2d 515 (1966) : In 1955, Sandra Baker held a protective order against her husband, who was also on probation. Despite this protection order, police did not act during a call from the woman citing the fact that it was only paper and held no value. About a month later while waiting for a meeting in the domestic relations court, Baker made a request to court personnel to remain in the office with a probation officer at the Domestic Relations court where she was currently located. She cited her fear of further violence. Her request was denied, and she was sent to the waiting room to wait for her scheduled meeting. Some 20 minutes later, he shot and wounded her in that waiting room. In 1966, Baker sued the City of New York. The Supreme Court Appellate Division agreed stating that the protection order she had constituted a special relationship and that the police had failed to protect her. Thurman V. City of Torrington 595 F. Supp. 1521 (D. Conn. l984) : Despite a conviction for damaging his wife’s property and a history of abuse and death threats over an eight month period, policy failed to respond to Tracey Thurman and her family’s reports and requests for assistance. The estranged husband continued the violence. After a judge issued a restraining order, the estranged husband went to her home, stabbed her, and then kicked her in front of officers. He then grabbed their child and dropped him on his mother. Only then did police arrest him. The court denied the city’s motion to dismiss the allegations of the battered woman and granted the motion to dismiss the allegations of the child for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut awarded Thurman $2.3 million, and this case changed the Connecticut law. This new law required the arrest of assaultive spouses and went into effect almost immediately. Macias V. Ihde 99-15662 (2000) : Maria Macias filed over 20 complaints alleging abuse, terrorizing, stalking, and sexual abuse of her and her children against estranged husband before he murdered her and wounded her mother in 1996. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, claiming that the department failed to provide Macias equal protection under the law. They also alleged that she was the victim of discrimination because she was both female and Hispanic. On June 20, 2000, the U.S. Circuit of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that victims of domestic violence had the right to equal protection under the law. This case then proceeded to trial and Macias family was awarded monetary compensation from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. These cases speak to the unfortunate reality that often it takes extreme violence or intervention to galvanize the system into action and protect future victims. Local, state, federal, and non-profit agencies have been established to help protect the rights of all victims and families and not simply for those affected by domestic violence. Currently, many courts have established Victim Advocate offices. Countless police departments now have victim liaisons or community response officers. Additionally many local agencies can assist with abused children, adults, and family members. This infrastructure has led to improved victim protections, rights, and services. References The Library of Congress. H.R. 5107: Justice for All Act of 2004. Washington, D.C. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR05107:@@@D&summ2=3&. Litsky, M. (1990). Explaining the Legal System’s Inadequate Response to the Abuse of Women: A Lack of Coordination. Journal of Human Rights, 170 (8), 170. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?men_tab=srchresults&handle=hein.journals/nylshr8&id=176&size=2collection=journals&terms=cases|protection|New%20York%20cases|protection%20order|V|order|Baker%20v.%20City|v.%20City|Baker|New%20York|New%20York. Jerin, R. (1989). Police Liability for Failure to Protect Battered Women. American Journal of Police. 8. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?men_tab=srchresults&handle=hein.journals/ajpol8&id=84&size=2&coll ection=journals&terms=Thurman%20v.%20City%20of%20Torrington|of|City%20of%20Torrington|City| City%20of|v|Thurman|of%20Thurman%20v.%20City%20of%20Torring Findlaw. U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. MACIAS v IHDE 9915662. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&case=/data2/circs/9th/9915662.html

Learning Objectives Define “victim” and “victimology” in context of the criminal justice system Review and discuss victim rights Examine the evolution of victim services Analyze the implications of specific landmark cases upon the criminal justice system Reading and Resources Textbook Understanding Violence and Victimization, Chapter 1 Website: OJP: Office for Victims of Crime This links to the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Fact Sheet, which defines the OVC and related resources. Website: SNHU Justice Studies Library Guide Here is a “one stop” index for criminal justice databases, magazines, and scholarly journals. It also contains resources for citation help and resources. Website: The National Center for Victims of Crime This is a resources and advocacy site for crime victims, those who support and work in victim services and related criminal justice professionals.

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