What Is Victim Justice?: A Checklist
No intervention that takes power away from survivors can possibly foster their recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in their best interest.1 Justice is achieved when all stakeholders are satisfied with the process and the outcome is fair to all participants.2 The following recommendations may help shape or improve your victim-centered policies and practices.3
- Respond equally, respectfully, and compassionately to all victims.
Simplify the service provision process.
Recruit and retain diverse staff and volunteers who represent the ethnic diversity within the community.
Provide the same quality of service to victims regardless of gender, race, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, or sexual orientation.
- Help protect victims from further victimization.
Assist victims in obtaining orders of protection and no contact as needed and enforce them vigilantly.
Educate victims regarding strategies for avoiding revictimization, without blame.
Encourage the media to respect victims' rights to privacy when they cover crimes.
- Refer victims to crisis and support services as soon as possible.
Determine what service providers victims would prefer to see for crisis intervention.
Offer services at no cost or on a sliding scale so that all victims can access them regardless of their ability to pay.
- Provide a seamless continuum of services and support for victims of crime.
Ensure that crime victims have a full range of emergency and ongoing support options available to them by partnering with service organizations and business communities.
Promote cross training among multidisciplinary agencies.
Provide options for short- and long-term counseling.
Develop protocols and interagency agreements for service delivery. Options should include medical care, clothing, food, temporary housing, care for dependants, transportation, counseling, employment leave, and physically accessible facilities and services.
Develop a process for obtaining ongoing feedback and evaluation from victims.
Respond to feedback from clients and other partner agencies.
- Inform victims about their rights and the timing of justice system processes.
Ensure that victims know what to expect as their cases are investigated and what will happen if and when their cases are brought to trial.
Provide a range of information on bail, pleas, and release from custody.
Send victims information about sentencing provisions and the appellate process if defendants are convicted.
Inform victims about procedures for obtaining and enforcing orders of protection and no-contact orders, as appropriate.
- Empower victims to take part in case processing.
Encourage victims to become involved in the criminal justice process, if and when they choose that option, but respect the right of victims to not participate in court processes or support services.
Reduce or eliminate barriers to participation. Victim involvement can help restore a sense of control and enhance faith in the justice system.
Encourage victims to use only those supports and services they feel will be beneficial.
- Schedule investigative, court, and post-sentence proceedings to facilitate victim participation.
Provide advance notice of events so victims can arrange to be present, if and when they choose to participate. Address constraints in victims' schedules.
Create a technology system to link service providers together so that they can share resources.
Arrange for childcare and assist with employer issues, when appropriate.
- Ensure continuity of advocacy services.
Designate a single service provider to work with victims throughout their recovery to ensure they do not "fall through the cracks" in a network of services.4
Accompany victims to court, help them prepare their impact statements, and refer them to other sources of adjudication and post-adjudication support.
- Focus on repairing the harm done by crime.
Ensure that victims are fully aware of their options. Many are interested in having offenders understand how the crime has affected them, so consider strategies for meeting this need.
Maximize the use of victim compensation benefits.
- Notify victims of changes in offender status.
Notify victims whenever defendants are released from prison, pretrial detention, or community supervision.
Notify victims of changes resulting from the appellate processes.
Assist victims with safety planning and ongoing counseling, as needed.
- Encourage victims to talk about their experiences and listen to them carefully.
Provide opportunities for victims to describe what happened to them and to express what impact the crime has had on their lives. Voicing experiences can help victims heal.
Facilitate opportunities for victims to give impact statements through trial, sentencing, probation, and parole proceedings.
- Enable victims to assist other victims and to serve the justice system.
Be aware that crime victims can be highly effective advocates for other victims.
Include victims on state compensation boards and victim impact panels, which can help them to heal while also making a significant contribution to other victims.
- Engage victims in policy and protocol development.
Consider the victims' perspectives when drafting or changing statutes, revising policies and procedures, or developing action plans.
Encourage victims to provide advice to policymakers, planners, evaluators, and funders. By doing so, victims can help the justice system and communities become more effective in addressing their needs and honoring their rights.
- Publicize resources and cultivate relationships in diverse and marginalized communities.
Develop relationships with ethnic and cultural populations within the community and offer them leadership opportunities.
Develop a list of local and state organizations and service providers for diverse populations.
Invite faith leaders to participate in response teams.
Develop training programs for staff to enhance their understanding of diversity and diverse cultures.
Solicit suggestions on how to make individuals with disabilities aware of accessible services.5
Ensure that the courtroom and offices are physically accessible to all victims, especially those who may use wheelchairs or walkers or who have limited stamina for walking.