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Strategic Goal 2: Keep Our Country Safe

Objective 2.6: Protect Vulnerable Communities

The Department must be vigilant in protecting and supporting all communities, including the most vulnerable among us.  We have a special obligation to protect children, whose victimization ripples through families, communities, and society at large.  Likewise, elder abuse, fraud, and neglect remain urgent problems in this country, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new wave of exploitative practices targeted at seniors.  The Department also has a unique legal relationship with, and responsibility to, federally recognized Tribes.  Gender-based violence, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, cuts across socioeconomic, racial, and geographic lines.  In addition, low-income communities, LGBTQI+ communities, communities of color, people with disabilities, non-citizens, and victims of human trafficking face disproportionately high rates of victimization.  The Department is dedicated to rectifying these disparities. 

When crimes do occur, the Department is committed to treating crime victims with dignity and respect throughout their involvement in the federal criminal justice system.  The Department will provide support and promote services for victims and their families, including through grantmaking and collaborations with state, local, and Tribal partners.

Strategy 1: Promote and Improve Programs for Victims of Crime
The Department will promote trauma-informed, victim-centered, culturally competent law enforcement and prosecutorial responses to crime.  We are committed to preventing further victimization by the criminal justice system.  To that end, we will provide evidence-based training and technical assistance designed to increase awareness of victims’ rights and best practices.  The Department will work to increase the accessibility of services for all crime victims who need them, including by embedding victim services in the response to community violence.  In addition, the Department will help ensure that services and support reach   communities that experience crime victimization at disproportionate rates.  The Department’s grant programs will coordinate with federal, state, local, and Tribal partners to promote individual and community healing, including by supporting programs (including counseling, advocacy, legal aid, housing, and mental health services) that minimize additional trauma and restore individuals’ sense of safety. 

Strategy 2: Combat Gender-Based Violence
The Department will reaffirm its efforts to prevent violence against women and hold perpetrators accountable.  We will enforce the federal domestic violence, sexual assault, and criminal and civil anti-harassment laws.  We will channel financial, training, and technical assistance resources toward the effective investigation and prosecution of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases.  These efforts will include increased training of law enforcement personnel to deal with the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of gender-based violence, support for economic justice interventions, public education, and outreach, particularly in underserved communities.  In addition to traditional tools, we will partner with community-based service providers to expand access.  The Department will also promote collaboration between law enforcement and other community entities that serve survivors to help ensure a coordinated approach to prevention and enforcement.

With respect to grants, the Department will both invest in programs that have a strong track record of success and will support innovative new programs that advance community-based, culturally specific responses.  The Department will also use cutting-edge information and scientific research to guide the implementation of effective strategies, policies, and practices to combat gender-based violence. 

Strategy 3: Protect Children from Crime and Exploitation
The Justice Department is determined to make America safer for our young people.  We will vigorously enforce all federal laws against those who target children online and in the physical world.  We will work across the federal government to fully implement protections and address gaps in current law and services for victims of child exploitation and abuse, including in the education and juvenile justice settings.  The Department will also work with its state, local, Tribal, and territorial partners to improve the response, investigation, prosecution, and support for victims in child abuse and exploitation cases.  The Department will pursue these goals through training and technical assistance for justice system officials, victim service professionals, and law enforcement.

Strategy 4: Fight Elder Fraud, Abuse, and Exploitation
Every year, millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, and financially exploited, often by those who are entrusted to care for them.  The Justice Department is committed to using all of its tools, including enforcement actions, public awareness campaigns, training, technical assistance, victims’ services, and legal aid, to ensure that seniors receive the support and protections they deserve.  In particular, the Department will use civil and criminal enforcement actions to reduce the devastating effects of fraud schemes affecting older adults, including those operated and facilitated by transnational criminal organizations.  We will seek to mitigate the economic hardships caused by such crimes by protecting victims’ assets and returning forfeited funds to victims of financial scams.  And we will train law enforcement and industry partners to identify, prevent, and report elder fraud and abuse schemes, and collaborate with state and local governments, private businesses, and other external stakeholders to engage in concerted outreach to vulnerable Americans, including older adults, to offer information that may prevent harm or allow victims to obtain assistance.  Public education and direct outreach are crucial to help older adults recognize the warning signs of potential abuse.

Strategy 5: Promote Safety and Justice in Indian Country
The Justice Department will prioritize working alongside Tribal law enforcement partners to deter and address serious crimes in Indian country.  At the same time, the Department will work to empower Tribal justice systems, including by providing services, technical assistance, and other resources to allow Tribal communities to protect their members from harm.  The Department will work with Tribal partners to develop strategies for early intervention and prevention with respect to Tribal victims facing trauma, mental health, and substance abuse issues.

Strategy 6: Protect Communities from Hate Crimes
All people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love, or how they worship.  Hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands.  The Department will continue to combat unlawful acts of hate, including by improving incident reporting, increasing law enforcement training and coordination at all levels of government, prioritizing community outreach, and making better use of civil enforcement mechanisms.  Through these steps, the Department will deter hate crimes, address them when they occur, support those who are victimized, and reduce the pernicious effects of these incidents on our society.

Key Performance Indicators:

  • Percent increase in services to traditionally underserved victim populations through Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA)-funded organizations and anti-human trafficking programs

  • Percent of USAOs conducting training on trauma-informed and culturally sensitive approaches for attorneys, victim witness specialists, and support staff

  • Percent of victims reporting that they entered and maintained permanent housing upon exit from an Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)-funded transitional housing program 6 months after program completion (Transitional Housing Program only)

  • Percent of crimes-against-children FBI cases that address abductions, hands-on offenders, sextortion, or enticement

  • Number of formal relationships established with state, county, and local law enforcement, either directly or through state Police Officer Standards and Training councils or commissions, to communicate elder justice best practices

  • Percent of Indian Country homicides cases and sexual abuse cases favorably resolved

Contributing DOJ Components: CIV, CRM, CRT, USAO, ATF, DEA, FBI, USMS, CRS, OJP, OLP, OTJ, OVW