Systems Advocacy and Coordination
Communication with and support for victims from law enforcement, prosecution, and courts are essential to providing quality victim services throughout the criminal justice process. States use training, technology, and creativity to coordinate resources with all components of the criminal, juvenile, tribal, and military justice systems on behalf of victims.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office addresses human trafficking with extended outreach, originality, and a partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University. The partnership has led to a new initiative aimed at engaging Florida’s business community to increase awareness of human trafficking and encourage reporting to law enforcement. From restaurants to lodging and trucking to retail, businesses are uniquely positioned to identify human trafficking within their supply chains and to train employees to recognize and report its signs. The partnership also developed a toolkit of educational materials to help businesses create and implement their own zero-tolerance human trafficking plans. Since 2007, Florida has mandated that all law enforcement recruits be trained on human trafficking. Recently, a 2-hour online training video was added to help frontline officers recognize and respond to human trafficking.
The Idaho Coalition on Domestic and Sexual Violence (ICDSV) coordinates a 1- to 2-day State Victim Assistance Academy with Boise State University. After Idaho determined that it already offered adequate fundamental training for victim services staff, ICDSV changed the traditional academy format. Now, hundreds of participants from law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and other professions attend annual advanced evidence-based trauma training.
The Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board considers applications for emergency awards for several reasons:
- Claimants do not yet have all the bills to file a regular claim, and a medical provider insists on payment before continuing treatment.
- The victim cannot work due to injuries.
- The victim is deceased and the claimant needs funds for funeral expenses.
- The victim in a domestic violence case needs funds to relocate, and waiting to complete and process a regular application would cause undue hardship.
Through partnerships with sheriffs’ departments in each parish, eligibility is often determined within hours, and awards up to $500 are available to families and victims within 1 to 2 days to meet their immediate needs.
The Office of the Maine Attorney General loans voice-activated radio dispatch alarms (VARDAs) to local law enforcement. In domestic violence cases, VARDAs are installed at no cost in the homes of victims who fear the offender will return and harm them.
Since 2009, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has implemented the Open Doors to Safety Project, which offers intensive training and technical assistance for programs and community providers that are members of the coalition. The training is designed to improve services for victims of domestic violence who experience mental health or substance abuse issues. Training recently moved to a Web-based format to allow local program staff 24/7 access to materials. Mental health care providers, child protective service workers, and medical personnel are among those who have participated in training on trauma-informed care.
Nearly two decades ago, South Carolina created pocket cards citing Miranda rights and victims’ rights. The pocket cards are a simple, convenient way to encourage officers to talk to victims about their rights, just as they are required to administer rights to suspects in custody. The cards are distributed to officers when they graduate from the police academy, building awareness of victims’ needs, and of the services available to meet them, right from the beginning of their law enforcement careers.