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Victim Assistance Programs – An Overview

Schneider, A. L.
June 4, 2015

Source: (1981) Perspectives on Crime Victims, pp. 364-373, 1981, Burt Galaway and Joe Hudson, ed. St. Louis: CV Mosby. Company.

Although most types of victim programs aim at providing a variety of services, the programs can usually be identified in relation to the emphasis they place on certain components. Four major types of victim program components have been developed: counseling, social services, and emergency services for victims; in-system services to reduce inconveniences experienced by victims and witnesses during their dealings with the criminal justice system; in-system advocacy on behalf of the victim’s rights and interests (including restitution and compensation); and prevention efforts targeted specifically at prior crime victims. Although these components are conceptually distinct, most victim programs are multipurpose organizations and attempt to provide most of these services. Each type of service must deal with such issues as organizational auspices, target audience, purpose, effectiveness, and funding arrangements. Of these, perhaps the most significant issue confronting victim programs is that of funding. This is aggravated by the fact that time-limited Federal funds used to start most victim programs are running out at a time when State and local governments are reducing spending for all types of human services. A number of alternative funding possibilities exist, such as levying a financial penalty on convicted criminals. Local victim service programs thus need to develop such alternative funding arrangements if they are to survive.


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