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Good Samaritans Volunteers Helping Victims Program Handbook and Training Guide
Top navigation About This Guide Message From the Director Acknowledgments About the Authors Related Links
Photo: Man and woman looking out of a broken window.

Publication Date: April 2009

minus iconFilling a Void—Origins of the Program
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minus iconVolunteers: Recruiting,
Screening, and Training

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minus iconModule 2: The Victim Experience
minus iconModule 3: Basic Skills for Volunteers
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Module 1: Program Overview

What Do Victims Want?

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, victims need and want the following3:

Safety: Protection from perpetrators and revictimization, crime prevention through collaborative problem solving, and a restored sense of individual and community safety.

Access: Ability to participate in the justice system process and obtain information and services, regardless of individual or family circumstances.

Information: Verbal and written information about justice system processes and victim services that is clear, concise, and user friendly.

Support: Services and assistance to enable participation in justice processes, recovery from trauma, and repair of harm caused by crime.

Continuity: Consistency in approaches and methods across agencies and continuity of support through all stages of the justice process and trauma recovery.

Voice: Empowerment to speak out about processing of individual cases and opportunities to influence agency and systemwide policies and practices.

Victims' Rights and Resources

The Victims' Rights Movement of the 1970s and 1980s resulted in local, state, and federal laws that established certain rights for victims, primarily for victims of violent crimes. The scope and strength of these provisions, however, can vary greatly from state to state. Victims' rights often include—

  • The right to notification of the stages of and proceedings in the criminal process.

  • The right to attend and/or participate in criminal justice proceedings.

  • The right to notification of other legal remedies.

  • The right to protection from intimidation and harassment.

  • The right to notice of the release or escape of the offender.

  • The right to privacy, including confidentiality of records.

  • The right to speedy trial provisions.

  • The right to discuss the case with or confer with the prosecutor.

  • The right to the prompt return of the victim's personal property seized as evidence from the offender.

  • Victim compensation and restitution.

Financial assistance for crime victims is available in every state in the country, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. Crime victim compensation programs administered by state governments promote the recovery of nearly 200,000 victims and their families every year, paying out close to $450 million annually.

Each state operates its program under its own state law, which designates specific eligibility criteria and levels of financial assistance. The majority of the money to fund these programs comes from offender fees and fines rather than taxpayer dollars, with about a third coming from Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. More information about each state's crime victim compensation program is accessible at

To assist crime victims with filling out forms or contacting appropriate agencies, Good Samaritans volunteers should know how their state's VOCA fund is administered. The local district attorney's victim service officers or the state's victim compensation board can be consulted for state-specific information.

3. International Association of Chiefs of Police. Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims: A 21st Century Strategy.