|3-7.100||History and Overview|
|3-7.300||Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance—Introduction|
|3-7.340||Emergency Victim/Witness Programs|
3-7.100 History and Overview
The creation of the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee was an attempt to move past territorial and jurisdictional concerns of federal, state, and local law enforcement entities, open the lines of communication, and make the most efficient use of law enforcement resources. Using the findings of a bi-partisan task force on violent crime, a program was designed which would be housed in a central location and be responsive to the unique needs of a specific area. The United States Attorneys' offices were selected as the most logical entity to house such a program because it represents the federal government's interests in local matters, and in most cases the United States Attorney represented strong community leadership, active support of law enforcement, and provided access to the leadership in Washington D.C., factors which would prove essential to the success of the program.
On July 21, 1981, the Attorney General of the United States issued an order instructing every United States Attorney to establish a Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (LECC) to respond to the need for better communication between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The LECCs are not only responsible for improving communications, but also for providing training, facilitating cooperative efforts by acting as a liaison between the United States Attorneys' offices and the community. This new program, LECC, would have the ability to identify specific training and resource needs of the district and locate available resources to fill those needs. Districts also have LECC Subcommittees which consist of relevant LECC agency officials working on specialized tasks, such as drug enforcement or white collar crime, see USAM 3-7.211.
As set forth in the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982, the Crime Control Act of 1990, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Victim Rights Clarification Act of 1997, and pursuant to the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance 2000 ("AG Guidelines"), the federal government must ensure that innocent victims of all crime have their rights upheld, have their dignity and privacy respected, and are treated with fairness. During the prosecution stage of the process, it is the United States Attorneys' offices, through their Victim-Witness Coordinators ("VWCs"), that are responsible for compliance with these mandates.
[updated November 2000]
The LECC and Victim Witness Programs are under the overall direction of the Deputy Attorney General. United States Attorneys from 14 districts make up the LECC and Victim-Witness Subcommittees of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys. These subcommittees provide input to the Attorney General on law enforcement and victim-witness matters. Additionally, a group of 16 LECC and Victim-Witness Coordinators serve on the Coordinators' Advisory Committee to provide input to the subcommittees and their chairpersons upon request.
Each individual district's LECC and Victim-Witness Programs are under the supervision of the United States Attorney. The LECC and Victim-Witness Coordinators may assist in managing local operations and coordinating activities within their district as directed by the United States Attorney.
[updated November 2000]
LECC members represent a broad range of multilevel government law enforcement agencies. In some of the larger districts, the full LECC may consist of several hundred individuals. Federal agency members include the FBI, DEA, IRS, INS, ATF, the U.S. Customs Service, Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Park Service, federal agency inspectors general, and the military. State agencies generally include state police; state attorneys general and inspectors general; the National Guard; tax, banking, and insurance regulators; conservation officers; and state criminal justice planning agencies. Local government agencies provide members from district or prosecuting attorneys' offices, city and rural police departments, sheriffs' departments, county inspectors, and town constables. Private groups, such as banking and insurance security personnel, may also belong to the committee. Even foreign law enforcement groups, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, can be a part of the LECC in border districts. The United States Attorney must ensure that full and fair representation is accorded all state and local law enforcement interests.
Subcommittees serve as the operational core of most LECC activity. They address specialized areas of district law enforcement needs and are made up of personnel with appropriate interest and expertise. An Assistant United States Attorney or other high level federal or nonfederal official may head the subcommittee.
3-7.212 Reporting Requirements
In accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance 2000, the Director, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), has the statutory responsibility for monitoring Justice Department compliance with the AG Guidelines. (42 U.S.C. § 10603(c)(3)(A)). Since 1982, each United States Attorney has reported to the Attorney General, through the OVC Director, on the status of their AG Guidelines compliance efforts in the annual Best Efforts Report. The responsible official, in preparing the annual "Best Efforts" Report shall include an account of practices and procedures which have been adopted (and are in actual use in each of their respective offices) to provide the services to victims mandated under federal law during the preceding fiscal year. See, Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance 2000, Article II.
[updated November 2000]
3-7.300 Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance—Introduction
The first Federal victims' rights legislation was the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 (VWPA). Congress amended and expanded upon the provisions of the 1982 Act in subsequent legislation, primarily the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, the Crime Control Act of 1990, the Victims Rights and Restitution Act of 1990, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, and the Victim Rights Clarification Act of 1997.
The VWPA instructs the Attorney General to develop and implement guidelines for the Department of Justice consistent with the purposes of the Act. In conformance with the Congressional directive, the Attorney General promulgated the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance on July 9, 1983 which were revised an reissued on May 1, 1995. These Guidelines set forth the procedures that officials should follow in responding to the needs of victims and witnesses. The foundation for the AG Guidelines is the Federal victims' rights laws. This most recent version of the AG Guidelines were promulgated on January 30, 2000.
[updated November 2000]
Responsibility for implementing the prosecution-related provisions of the Attorney General Guidelines within the Department resides with the 93 United States Attorneys and litigating components, with each United States Attorney and/or Assistant Attorney General as the responsible official for cases in his/her district in which charges have been instituted. The United States Attorney and/or Assistant Attorney General is required to designate the individual or individuals to carry out victim-witness services in his or her office.
Specifically, each United States Attorney's office is responsible for providing the following assistance and/or information:
- Information, Notice and Referrals
- Consultation with a government attorney
- A separate waiting area
- Notification to victims and witnesses employers and creditors
- Victim Privacy
- Logistical Information
- Limited Testing of Defendants in Sexual Assault Cases
- Right to make statement about pretrial release in an interstate domestic violence, stalking, or violation of protective order case
- Closed Circuit Televising of Court Proceedings in Change of Venue Cases Allocution Statements to the Court
- Sentencing Proceedings
- Victim Impact Statements
See, Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance 2000, Article IV.B.
Responsibility for technical assistance to United States Attorneys' offices in implementing the AG Guidelines lies with the LECC/Victim-Witness Staff of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.
Responsibility for monitoring compliance with the Guidelines and provisions of the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982, the Crime Control Act of 1990, and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Victim Rights Clarification Act of 1997, resides with the Director, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), Office of Justice Programs (OJP).
Pursuant to Articles I and II of the AG Guidelines each United States Attorney:
- Shall designate one or more persons specifically for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Guidelines;
- Should include implementation of and evaluation of adherence or nonadherence with the victims' rights and witnesses' services provisions set forth in the AG Guidelines in the annual work plans and performance appraisals of each appropriate federal employee;
- Shall ensure that employees whose responsibilities include contact with crime victims and witnesses receive a copy of the AG Guidelines and attend a one hour training session concerning the AG Guidelines and victims' and witnesses' rights within 60 days of assuming these responsibilities;
- Should coordinate the provision of victim-witness services between the United States Attorneys' offices and other organizational components of the Department, i.e., investigative agencies within the Department; and with state and local law enforcement officials including tribal police officials in Indian Country and victim assistance and compensation service providers;
- Shall report annually to the Attorney General on the "Best Efforts" they have made in ensuring that victims of crime are accorded their rights. United States Attorneys may comply with this requirement by the filing of their annual report on victim and witness assistance with the LECC/Victim-Witness Staff of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.
[updated November 2000]
3-7.340 Emergency Victim/Witness Programs
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has established a special fund through a reimbursable agreement with the Executive Office for United States Attorneys to provide emergency assistance and services to victims of federal crimes when needed services are unavailable through other sources.
The Federal Crime Victim Assistance Fund (FCVAF), derived from the Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) funds, is designed to assist federal crime victims with services of an immediate nature. These services include, but are not limited to, transportation costs for victims to participate in judicial proceedings, emergency shelter, temporary housing, crisis intervention, and other services necessary to effectively respond to emergency needs of federal crime victims. The FCVAF is intended to be used when no other resources are available and state compensation efforts have been exhausted. To apply for FCVAF funds, districts should contact the LECC/Victim-Witness Staff of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.
Another tool in the prosecution of cases involving witnesses who have a perceived threat of danger in relation to testifying is the Emergency Witness Assistance Program (EWAP). This program, is available to witnesses who are going to testify in cases, but have a reservation about testifying, not an actual threat. Threats should be treated seriously in connection with the United States Marshal's Service and local law enforcement.
The purpose of EWAP is to provide the United States Attorneys' offices with the flexibility to address a critical need: assistance to witnesses on an emergency basis to ensure their well being and that witnesses will be available for trial, other court proceedings, or activities on an ongoing case. The program also addresses a witness's or prospective witness's physical, mental or emotional reservations about participating in a specific matter before or after he or she has agreed to cooperate with, testify or be available for, the government.
Each district has an implementation plan which further describes the uses of the funds.
[updated November 2000] [cited in USAM 3-1.200]