Victim Services


I. Introduction

II. Services for and Rights of Violent Crime Victims

A. 1960s: Medical Definitions of Victimization and Law Enforcement Involvement

B. 1970s: Grassroots Advocacy and Victim Compensation Programs

C. 1980s: Medical, Legal, and Legislative Action

D. 1990s: Continued Advocacy, Direct Service Provision, and Legislative Action

E. 2000s: Federal Legislation and the Diversification of Services

III. Victims and a Federal Constitutional Amendment

IV. Financing Victim Services and Improving Service Delivery

V. Diversity of Services for the Diverse Population of Violent Crime Victims

I. Introduction

A social and academic interest in the lives of violent crime victims reflects the changing role and importance of victims in the public imagination, public policy, lawmaking, criminal justice, and social service provision in recent decades. Prior to the 1960s, both the criminal justice system and the human and social service system largely ignored the plight of victims, instead focusing on the causes and nature of crime and the rehabilitation or punishment of offenders (see Wallace, 1998). The victims of crime have therefore gone largely unrecognized in public discourse and within the criminal justice system (see Elias, 1992). More importantly, until the last several decades, the impact of criminal victimization had not been a focus of public concern. Instead, the victims’ role in crime was largely filtered through their role as witnesses within the criminal justice system. Beginning in the late 1960s and taking hold in the 1970s, academic research, the medical community, and law enforcement’s concern and actions taken for victims of crime began to expand. The research, activism, and legislation helped to identify and highlight the toll of violent crime in terms of the social, physical, mental health, and financial consequences of victimization. This public concern owes much of its impetus to the actions and advocacy of grassroots organizations that organized and mobilized to offer victims the tangible assistance and support they needed in the way of shelters, crisis care, advocacy, and representation within the criminal justice system.

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