April 21-27 Is Crime Victims’ Rights Week
MINNEAPOLIS—U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones today announced that this week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The theme of this year’s observance, “New Challenges, New Solutions,” honors local champions of crime victims’ rights and celebrates the spirit that will advance the progress these heroes have to date achieved.
Awareness of federal crime victims and the issues they face was greatly heightened in 2004, with the enactment of the Crime Victims’ Right Act (“CVRA”). That act grants federal crime victims certain enforceable rights during criminal proceedings, including the right to be heard in court and the right to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. Crime victims also have the right to be notified of pertinent court events, such as indictment, trial, and sentencing. In Fiscal Year 2010, U.S. Attorney offices nationwide collectively notified federal crime victims of nearly eight million case events. In the District of Minnesota alone, approximately 212,099 such notices were provided.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Minnesota has a dedicated Victim-Witness team. In addition to ensuring compliance with victims’ rights, as set forth in federal statute, team members accompany crime victims to court, make referrals for counseling, and assist in accessing victim compensation funds. Nationally, in Fiscal Year 2010, an estimated 19,000 federal crime victims were accompanied to court and more than 23,000 were referred for victim services.
Another way in which U.S. Attorney offices assist federal crime victims is by recovering the monetary losses incurred by them during the related crime. This is particularly important in cases involving financial fraud, when victims often lose their retirement funds or their children’s college money to a smooth-talking crook. Of course, the government cannot guarantee all losses will be restored, but in Fiscal Year 2011, U.S. Attorney offices nationwide, through their Financial Litigation Units, collected a total of approximately $53 in federal restitution for crime victims. In Fiscal Year 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Minnesota collected approximately $15.4 million for individual victims, while more than $161,000 was recovered for federal agencies who had been victimized by criminal activity.
Finally, the federal government assists victims of violent crime by paying for related expenses, such as lost wages, counseling, and medical costs. Moreover, that assistance is not provided by tax dollars. Rather, the funds come from the Federal Crime Victims Fund, which is supported through the collection of criminal fines and penalties.
For more information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.