Office for Victims of Crime - Justice for Victims. Justice for All
Justice for Victims. Justice for All
Helping Victims of Mass Violence & Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources

Tools

Compendium of Resources

Federal Agencies/Offices

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Victim/Witness Assistance Program

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigates crimes involving firearms, explosives, arson, and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco. In addition, ATF victim/witness coordinators, located in each ATF field division throughout the country, help the victims of and witnesses to those crimes. Coordinators may help victims navigate the criminal justice process, report threats or harassment, find programs or services such as counseling and emergency housing, and so forth.

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Centers for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

DHS Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships is one of several federal centers under the Obama Administration’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative. The centers were developed to encourage participation of faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) in federal programs. The DHS Center, specifically, determines ways in which to disseminate information effectively to FBCOs, encourages their participation in emergency preparedness and response and recovery by connecting them with disaster-relief organizations and with state and local emergency management professionals, and offers training opportunities, among other activities.

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Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Victim-Witness Assistance

One of the duties of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys is to assist U.S. Attorneys’ Offices with their victim-witness program activities. In part, these activities include ensuring that victims—

  • Are afforded their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act and other federal statutes.
  • Receive prompt notification of case status and hearings.
  • Receive referrals for services.
  • Are accompanied to court hearings and trials, if requested.

Go to specific U.S. Attorneys’ Offices’ Web sites for more information about each office’s activities in this area.

Victim Notification System

The Victim Notification System (VNS) is a free, computer-based system that provides victims with information and notification about their cases. Once victims register with the FBI office handling their case, they are able to access VNS to receive notifications about suspect arrests, scheduled court proceedings, offender custody status, and so forth.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation

Office for Victim Assistance

The Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) ensures that victims of crimes investigated by the FBI are afforded the opportunity to receive the services and notification as required by federal law and the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance (2011). The OVA manages the day-to-day operational aspects of the Victim Assistance Program (VAP) in the 56 FBI field offices across the country as well as the FBI’s international offices. In addition, the OVA trains FBI personnel to work effectively with victims.

  • FBI Victim Specialists. Crime can have a devastating effect on victims and their families, some of whom may need help coping with the impact of victimization. FBI victim specialists (VS) work to ensure that victims of crimes investigated by the FBI are afforded the opportunity to receive the services and notifications required by federal law and by the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance (2011). VSs are proactive in identifying victim assistance resources in the communities and developing good working relationships with the providers. They make referrals for victim services, such as counseling and support groups. In addition, they have regular contact with other victim-witness coordinators and they are participants in local, regional, and statewide victim assistance networks.
  • Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team. In 2004, the FBI formed the Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team (VARDT). This team is composed of specially selected and highly experienced and trained FBI VSs who provide crisis intervention and victim assistance services in mass casualty situations and in conjunction with local agencies. The FBI’s VARDT has been deployed to many mass casualty incidents across the country, including the Washington Navy Yard shooting; the Boston Marathon bombings; the Newtown, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood shootings; and others.
  • Terrorism Victim Assistance Unit. Within OVA, the Terrorism Victim Assistance Unit provides emergency assistance to injured victims and families of victims murdered in terrorist attacks within the United States and outside the borders of the United States and serves as a permanent point of contact for terrorism victims within the FBI.
  • Victim Notification System. The Victim Notification System (VNS) is a free, computer-based system that provides victims with information and notification about their cases. Victims of federal crimes are able to obtain information about events pertaining to the criminal case and/or any defendants in the case through VNS, a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Attorneys' offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. VNS is administered by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.

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National Transportation Safety Board

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates civil aviation accidents and significant accidents in other modes of transportation (e.g., railroad, highway) to determine the probable cause and to issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, NTSB studies transportation safety and coordinates the Federal Government’s victim assistance efforts for those affected by major transportation disasters.

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U.S. Department of Education

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools

This program helps local education agencies create, strengthen, and improve emergency management plans at the district level and within schools. Funds can be used to train school personnel on emergency management procedures, communicate with parents about emergency plans and procedures; and coordinate with local law enforcement, public safety or emergency management, public health and mental health agencies, and local government. Grant funds also may be used for the following activities: reviewing and revising emergency management plans, conducting building and facilities audits, implementing the National Incident Management System, developing an infectious disease plan, developing or revising food defense plans, purchasing school safety equipment (to a limited extent), conducting drills and tabletop simulation exercises; and preparing and distributing copies of emergency management plans.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) was created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to lead the nation in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters. ASPR focuses on preparedness planning and response; building federal emergency medical operational capabilities; and countermeasures research, advance development, and procurement. The office augments state and local capabilities during an emergency or disaster.

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security

DHS coordinates national strategy to strengthen protections against terrorist threats or attacks in the United States. The DHS Web site lists news, legislation, and tips on terrorism and also links to U.S. Government Web sites dealing with this topic or related issues.

Financial Assistance/Grants

Although many DHS components offer financial assistance, most DHS funding exists within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA funding can be used for preparedness, hazard mitigation assistance, disasters, and firefighting activities. FEMA’s Grants page links to funding opportunities, a list of State Administrative Agency (SAA) contacts, information bulletins, a grants management toolkit, technical assistance, and congressional resources.

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U.S. Department of Justice

Action Center: Find Help and Information for Crime Victims

This U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Web page links crime victims to hotlines and contact information, victim resources, and information regarding hearing notifications, case status, and victim/witness complaint procedures in federal cases.

Victim Notification System

The Victim Notification System (VNS) is a free, computer-based system that provides victims with information and notification about their cases. Victims of federal crimes are able to obtain information about events pertaining to the criminal case and/or any defendants in the case through VNS, a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Attorneys’ offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. VNS is administered by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.

National Security Division

The National Security Division (NSD) carries out the U.S. Department of Justice’s highest priority: to combat terrorism and other threats to national security. NSD strengthens the effectiveness of the Federal Government’s national security efforts by ensuring greater coordination between prosecutors and law enforcement agencies and between intelligence attorneys and the intelligence community.

The Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT), a component of NSD, works to—

  • Ensure that when Americans are injured or killed in terrorist attacks overseas, investigation and prosecution remain a high priority within DOJ.
  • Monitor the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against Americans abroad in both foreign and U.S. criminal justice systems.
  • Ensure that the rights of victims and their families are honored and respected throughout the criminal justice system.

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OVC Resources

OVC Resource Center

The OVC Resource Center is OVC’s information clearinghouse at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), which offers victim-, justice-, and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development. The NCJRS Web site includes topic pages, a question-and-answer knowledge base, subscription services (e.g., listservs, electronic newsletter, RSS feed), a library of publications from sponsoring agencies, an abstracts database of more than 210,000 criminal and juvenile justice titles, and a justice events calendar. The Victims topic page links to resources that cover civil remedies; crisis intervention/response; faith; finances; health and mental health; homicide victims/co-survivors; restorative justice; rights and services; service programs; special populations such as persons with disabilities, older adults, juveniles, and others; and victimization.

Responding to Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence Crimes: Coordination and Collaboration Between American Red Cross Workers and Crime Victim Service Providers
This booklet provides information on how American Red Cross (ARC) staff and volunteers can better assist victims of terrorism and mass violence. It focuses on victims’ rights and needs, OVC resources, victim compensation and assistance, and key differences between the needs of victims of crime and victims of natural disasters. The booklet explains the complementary roles of ARC and OVC in responding to the needs of victims of terrorism and mass violence. The deceased, survivors, and bereaved family members may be eligible for both state and federal victim services and ARC disaster services. Although ARC disaster operations are activated based on the impact of a disaster rather than its cause, the services of OVC and state and local crime victim assistance programs are activated only when there is significant indication that a disaster has been caused by a criminal act. State and local offices make the determination based on their regulations and procedures. When both ARC and crime victim service agencies are involved in responding to victims of criminal acts that have a multitude of victims, planned coordination of each agency’s efforts means more effective and efficient service for victims.

CrimeVictims.Gov
Designed for three audiences—crime victims, volunteers, and victim service providers—CrimeVictims.gov provides resources for each, including links to Web sites, publications, victim services directories, public service announcements, databases, and hotlines. Crime victims, for example, can access the following resources through this Web site:

  • Online Directory of Crime Victim Services—Database that can be searched locally, nationally, and internationally for public, private, nonprofit, and community agencies that provide assistance and services in the victim’s local area.
  • Help for Crime Victims—Provides information on how to contact local victim assistance and compensation programs as well as links to resources, organizations, and publications.
  • U.S. Resource Map of Crime Victim Services & Information—For victims of crime, click on a state or territory for victim compensation and assistance information, victim notification programs through the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services, and information of reporting crime victims’ rights violations. For service providers, click on a state or territory for conferences and events, victims’ rights legal provisions, statistics, and statewide performance reports.
  • Resources for International Victims—Links to international centers, publications, and Web sites related to crime victim issues.
  • Toll-Free and Online Hotlines—Hotlines and 1–800 numbers for national victim-serving organizations, clearinghouses, and referral organizations.

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August 2015   •   NCJ 248647
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