Promoting Crime Victims’ Rights at SHSU

Logo of National Crime Victims' Right Week, with man helping another up a globe.

The Crime Victims’ Institute (CVI) at Sam Houston State University will hold an Open House for Crime Victims’ Rights Week on April 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom.

The event, which will include a stream from the statewide ceremony of Texas crime victim advocacy groups, will promote victims’ rights and honor crime victims. CVI, which studies the impact of crime on victims, their relatives and society as a whole, will provide information about their research.

This year’s theme—New Challenges. New Solutions — will celebrate the significant progress in victims’ rights over the last 30 year. In the past, crime victims had no rights, access to crime victim compensation, or services to help rebuild their lives. They were often excluded from courtrooms, treated as an afterthought by the criminal justice system, and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencing.

Through decades of advocacy and hard work, all states now have enacted crime victims’ rights laws and established crime victim compensation funds. There are more than 10,000 victim service agencies helping victims throughout the nation, and, every year, states and localities receive funding to support these services.

But many challenges remain. Crime victims’ rights are not universal and are often not enforced. Only a small percentage of victims receive crime victim compensation, which is usually limited to victims of violent crime. According to last year’s National Crime Victimization Survey, more than 50 percent of violent crimes were not reported to police in 2006-2010. In addition, a 2011 report called the Use of Victim Services Agencies by Victims of Serious Violent Crime showed that only 9 percent of violent crime victims received needed services in the 1993-2009 timeframe.

word victim among computer code, illustrating cybercrime.Advocates also face a host of new challenges to provide culturally competent services for increasingly diverse populations (e.g., seniors, teens, immigrant populations) and victims of newly prevalent crimes (e.g., trafficking and technology-related.). As funding sources decrease, providers must target their services even more strategically.

“New Challenges. New Solutions. captures our mission in the 21st century,” said Joye E. Frost, Acting Director, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), U.S. Department of Justice. “As reflected in OVC’s major strategic planning initiative, Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services, we must craft a new vision for reaching all victims of crime. We can achieve this only by substantially broadening our thinking, strategically planning our future, and creatively expanding our resources and tools.”

Member of The Texas State University System