All states have passed laws guaranteeing the rights of crime victims to participate in the criminal justice process, while 29 states have amended their state constitutions to include protections for victims of crime. Examples of these rights include making statements at sentencing and parole hearings; receiving notification of court proceedings and actions concerning case disposition; and applying for financial assistance or compensation from the state.
Although these statutes and amendments mandate the provision of rights and services, they do not mandate procedures by which to implement them. Several states in recent years have developed programs that provide recourse to crime victims who feel that their rights have been violated. In this analysis, the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) analyzed the elements of the victims' rights compliance enforcement programs in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
These programs differ from state to state in their structure and scope of activity. Victims of crime in Colorado, for example, are able to file complaints with the state's Victims' Compensation and Assistance Coordinating Committee (coordinating committee) when they feel that their rights have been denied. Wisconsin's Department of Justice, Office of Crime Victims' Services provides a similar function through the Victim Resource Center, which may mediate complaints brought by victims, or act as a liaison between victims and state and local criminal justice agencies. The state of Minnesota has appointed a crime victims' ombudsman to advocate for fairness and impartiality for victims seeking services from the state. The ombudsman's office retains the power to investigate victims' claims of unlawful or inappropriate action on the part of criminal justice and victims' services providers.
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