An Examination of the National Center for Victims of Crime, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

With headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) was created to help American citizens who have been victimized by criminal activity. Basically, this non-profit organization advocates stronger rights, protections, and services for crime victims and focuses on four major areas–1), locating and securing resources for crime victims in the form of physical and mental health professionals who work independently, much like the “Doctors Without Borders” program, and increasing funding at the federal level for crime victims via compensation; 2), “strengthening and expanding crime victims’ rights within the criminal, juvenile, civil, and administrative justice systems; 3), strengthening how the United States responds to victims of crime as opposed to helping the perpetrators of crime; and 4), developing a dialog concerning crime issues through the promotion of “national policy conversations about emerging issues and underserved victim populations with limited access to appropriate resources” (The National Center for Victims of Crime, 2012).

History of the NCVC

The origins of the National Center for Victims of Crime dates back to 1985 during the Reagan Administration when the crime rate in the U.S. was considerably higher than it is today. In response, in 1982, the Reagan Administration created the Task Force on Victims of Crime which recommended that crime victims must be treated fairly by the courts and advocated for “an amendment to the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to guarantee victims’ rights to be present and heard at critical stages” during the prosecution of violent criminal offenders. In addition, in 1983, the U.S. Department of Justice developed the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) in order to help “implement recommendations from the President’s Task Force;” also, in 1984, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was enacted by the U.S. Congress which established the Crime Victims Fund which used monies from “federal criminal fines and penalties to support state victim compensation and service programs (The History of Crime Victims’ Rights in America, 2013).

Since the 1980’s, the NCVC has become America’s main resource related to compensating crime victims and is today the major “advocacy organization for victims of all types of crime and for the people who serve them” (The National Center for Victims of Crime, 2012), such as federal and state prosecutors, mental health professionals, and policing organizations. Out of this came a new legal concept known as concept parallel justice which can be defined as an approach that provides “victims full participation in the criminal justice process and the means to overcome the physical, emotional, and financial consequences” of a violent crime like homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and rape (The National Center for Victims of Crime, 2012).

Programs of the NCVC

As of 2013, the National Center for Victims of Crime provides four important programs designed to help the victims of crime in the United States–1), the DNA Resource Center which focuses upon “training, technical assistance, and information about the use of DNA in the criminal justice system” and how DNA as a genetic material can be extremely useful in helping to identity the perpetrators of crime; 2), the Stalking Resource Center which like the DNA Resource Center provides “training, technical assistance, and information for professionals working with and responding to stalking victims and offenders;” 3), the Youth Initiative, a program dedicated to helping to build “the nation’s capacity to support youth victims while working to advance their rights; and 4), the National Crime Victim Bar Association, created to offer support and encouragement to lawyers who represent victims in federal and state criminal courts which today tend to focus upon the rights of the perpetrator as opposed to those who end up as their unwitting and innocent victims, such as with carjacking, bank robbery, and incidents of home invasion (The National Center for Victims of Crime, 2012). One other important program is known as the National Compassion Fund which was first set up after tragedies like the Aurora, Colorado, mass shootings and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Massachusetts, where twenty students and six adults were shot and killed on December 14, 2012 by two disgruntled students who took out their anger on their fellow classmates and teachers (Sandy Hook Shooting, 2012).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the National Center for Victims of Crime is that as a non-profit organization is supported by some highly recognizable Americans who shared the same visions of helping to serve and protect the victims of crime. One of these was Sunny von Bulow, the wife of Claus von Bulow who was convicted of attempting to poison her in 1980; she was also the mother of the founders of the NCVC. Another was opera singer Beverly Sills, the first board member of the NCVC and a longtime supporter of the organization over the course of her career as one of the best opera singers in the world.

Conclusion

In essence, the National Center for Victims of Crime is wholly dedicated to ensuring that all victims of crime in the United States are treated fairly and with equal justice in America’s criminal justice system and especially in the courts, where justice for victims is often fleeting. One of the methods advocated by the NCVC is the creation of federal legislation that would permit “the collection of overdue victim restitution from an offender’s income tax refunds” (The National Center for Victims of Crime, 2012) which is wholly supported by a number of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives.

References

Sandy Hook shooting: What happened? (2012). CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/12/us/sandy-hook-timeline

The history of crime victims’ rights in America. (2013). Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center. Retrieved from http://www.mdcrimevictims.org/laws-and-   policies/history-of-crime-victims-rights-in-america

The national center for victims of crime. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.victimsofcrime.org

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