April 22, 2012, begins National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor crime victims and our nation’s progress in advancing their rights. More than 30 years ago the victims’ rights movement began to confront the challenges facing victims’ in an effort to promote fair, compassionate, and respectful responses to victims of crime.
Since the 1980’s, the nation has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections, and services for victims of crime. Every state, including Minnesota, has enacted victims’ rights laws, and 32 states have constitutional victims’ rights amendments. All states have victim compensation funds, and more than 10,000 victim service agencies have been established throughout the country.
Yet there is still much more that can be done. Victims’ rights are not universal and are often not enforced. Only a fraction of victims receive crime victim compensation, which is usually limited to victims of violent crime. According to the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), more than 50 percent of crimes are not reported and fewer than 20 percent of victims receive needed services. For additional information about Nation Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to help victims in your community, please visit the Office for Victims of Crime Web site at www.crimevictims.gov.