VICTIM ADVOCACY 7
NationalCrime Victim Law Institute
The (NCVLI) was created in the year2000 in a bid to promote the enforcement of victims’ rights and toeducation and create awareness in the facade of crime victims’rights. Based on the information given on its website, NCVLI wasestablished to serve as a national resource for crime victimadvocates and lawyers, and victims to support the enforcement andassertion of victims’ rights in civil and criminal proceedings.(NCVLI, n.d). The key mission of this victim advocacy group is topromote fairness and ensure balance in the judicial system thoughvictim- centered legal advocacy, resource sharing, and education(Davis, 2009). To attain these goals NCVLI strives to perform thefollowing:
Offer support and assistance to crime victims’ advocates, attorneys and other individuals serving the interest of victims.
Promote the rights of crime victims, especially those of marginalized and underserved regions in the civil and criminal judicial processes. Reform the law through public policy advocacy and via model laws
Carry out and support impact litigation via NCVLI autonomous participation
•Educate law students, advocates, judges, victims’ lawyers, the law enforcement agencies and the general public
The also holds yearly conferences on the rights of crime victims.
TheNCVLI has a membership body known as the NAVRA (National Alliance ofVictims’ Rights Attorneys). The organization is an alliance ofattorneys who are dedicated to the protection, support as well as theenforcement of the rights of the victims in the whole country (Davis, 2009).
TheNCVLI has initiated clinics in various states in the United States tofill the gap that was perceived by many Americans as the deficit invictims’ rights legislation. Even though it is quite evident thatall the states in the U,S have different legislation aimed atprotecting victims’ rights and majority of these have amended stateconstitution to create rights for victims, it is quite clear that therights of majority of crime victims are never observed (Davis, 2009).To a large extent, this may be happening because these states have noredress enforceable when crime victims are denied theirconstitutional rights. The NCVLI has created clinics at the locallevel to support education, promote awareness and ensure that theavailable victim’s rights are honored and enforced within the legalprocesses.
Theclinics seeks to support and ensure enforcement of victim’s rightsin legal processes via filing of motions in the legal cases in whichit is apparent that the tights of the victim are denied and byseeking appellate decision. By offering direct representation tovictims in court cases, NCVLI anticipates that it will improve andincrease observance of rights in court proceedings and argumentawareness of victims’ rights to law enforcers, prosecutors and evenjudges (Davis, 2009).
Twoyears after its inception the NCVLI received a major boost bysoliciting for the support of the OVC in the Office of the JusticePrograms within the Department of U.S Justice. This culminated in thecreation of the Federal and State clinics and numerous systemdemonstration projects which run up to the year 2009 (Davis,Anderson, Whitman & Howley, 2012). A major element of thisprogram was the creation of pro bono victims’ rights clinics indifferent states around the country. These clinics played a key rolein creating a path defining how best the body can operate and conductits activities to attain its goals and mission.
NCVLIconducts outreach programs that encompass training by professionalwithin the criminal justice system, and learners in the law schoolsand as such the awareness of public about the victim’s rights hassignificantly increased over the years. The use of clinics alsoplayed a crucial role in augmenting the acceptance of theorganizations work to the local community and within the legalstructure (Davis, Anderson, Whitman & Howley, 2012).
Anotherimportant aspect of NCVLI is the fact it does not offer free legalservice to all victims of crime activities who seeks its services.The goal of the organization is not to offer direct legal service tothe crime victims but rather to pair victims with support serviceswithin their jurisdiction and look for a legal representative in thepool of the pro bono lawyers who are ready and willing to offer freelegal services (Davis, Anderson, Whitman & Howley, 2012). NCVLIpartners with the volunteer lawyers and other legal representativesto ensure that quality advocacy is attained on behalf of the victims.
Thefact that NCVLI offers technical help and training through strategiccase advice, research, and writing to advocates and attorneys ensuresthat the legal representative of crime victims, even though in solopractice, are in a position to adequately represent the victim withauthority and resources of national body on their back.
NCVLIobjective of making sure that every crime victims that contacts ithas access to free advocates and attorneys with full knowledge abouttheir rights is crucial because it ensures that every victim has avoice in the legal process (Davis, 2009). It is important to statethat prosecutors in the legal proceedings do not represent theinterest of the victim but the state. In this light, NCVLI hasensured that crime victims are adequately compensated in line withthe law.
Finally,NCVLI gets a great deal of resourcing from the Federal governmentthrough grants. This means that no tax payer’s money is used in theprocess of hunting for victim’s justice because the grants aresolely derived from penalties, fines and bond forfeitures of theindicted offenders. Even so NCVLI accepts grants from individuals andprivate bodies and strives to designate such funds the program thatsuch donors seek to support (Davis, 2009).
NCVLIhas made massive strides in ensuring crime victims are treated withfairness and access justice. Nonetheless, the operations of thisadvocacy groups have been dogged by inadequate funding. For example,the organization was unable to replicate the demonstration clinics inall states because of limited funding from Federal government (Davis,Anderson, Whitman & Howley, 2012).
Dueto the large number of cases in the country and the lack of enoughresources to conduct its operations smoothly, NCVLI has not managedto reverse the situation and ensure victims are heard and restitutionis provided where appropriate. For example a survey conduct by theNational Institute of Justice in 2009 revealed that even in stateswhere there were a strong victims’ rights laws, many of them werenever notified of hearing and majority were denied the opportunity tobe heard (Davis, 2009). Worse still many victims never receivedrestitution. A more recent research by the GAO (General AccountingOffice) indicated that the U.S government was only able to collect ameager 4 percent of the total criminal debt. The most bafflingstatistics was that about 70 percent of the uncollected debt isactually owed to the crime victims (Davis, 2009). Other studiesprobing victims’ rights observance have reported similar findings.
TheNCVLI has continuously pushed for crime victims to be accorded anopportunity to stand and enforce their rights. Standing denotes alegal principle that allows or disallows a party to intercede in alegal proceeding. The most regrettable thing is that most states donot have a system in place for crime victims to seek remedy whentheir rights are violated (Davis, 2009). There have been divergentviews among state on whether to permit victims standing to asserttheir rights in legal proceeding or to inquire about for appellatedecision. Immense resistance has come from courts and justiceofficials to accord victims standing to assert their rights. The mainconcerns have been that standing would accord victims too muchcontrol over the outcome of the proceedings which may contravenedefendant’s rights. NCVLI has strived to alter this phenomenon buthas not wielded enough clout to influence the change (Davis, 2009).
Itis evident that the clinics were very effective in providing servicesto victims but were not enough to offer sufficient service to asubstantial proportion of the victims. In this light, one of the keyways of reaching a large number is by creating an expanded set ofclinics. Even though this program was halted in 2009, it successesindicate that this was and remain the best move for NCVLI to attainits goals and mission.
Anotherway to ensure an increased number of crime victims’ access servicesis to include a wide scale pro bono legal representative and createlaw school clinics in different parts of the country. With thelimited resources, such a model would be more appropriate because itis less costly that the model that seeks to staff clinics withcommitted legal representatives.
Anotherelement would be to include the expansion of the role of state victimombudsmen who have the authority to sanction agencies that portray apattern of malfunction to observe victims’ rights.
Davis,R. C. (2009). Securingrights for victims: A process evaluation of the National Crime VictimLaw Institute`s victims` rights clinics.Santa Monica, Calif: RAND.
Davis,R.C., Anderson, J.M.Whitman, J. and Howley, S. (2012). NoMore Rights Without Remedies: An Impact Evaluation of the NationalCrime Victim Law Institute’s Victims’ Rights Clinics. RandCorporation . Available at:https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/241752.pdf
NCVLI.(2015). NCVLIfights for victims through legal advocacy, training and education,and public policy.Available at:https://law.lclark.edu/centers/national_crime_victim_law_institute/