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No More Rights Without Remedies

No More Rights Without Remedies: An Impact Evaluation of the National Crime Victim Law Institute's Victims' Rights Clinics

Robert C. Davis
James M. Anderson
Susan Howley
Carol Dorris
Julie Whitman
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 124
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  • Book Info
    No More Rights Without Remedies
    Book Description:

    This report captures the scope of National Crime Victim Law Institute victims’ rights clinics and describes how clinic representation affects the exercise of rights in individual cases, the legislation, court rules, appellate decisions, and media reporting pertaining to victims’ rights before and after the start of the clinics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7980-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xii)

    The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) victims’ rights clinics are an effort to remedy what many perceived as a serious deficit in victims’ rights legislation. Although all states have laws protecting victims’ rights and many have constitutional amendments establishing rights for victims, the rights of many victims still are not honored or observed. In large measure, this may be because there are no remedies enforceable when victims are denied their rights. The NCVLI clinics were intended to promote awareness, education, and enforcement of crime victims’ rights in the criminal justice system. The victims’ rights clinics sought to protect and...

  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Once considered only witnesses to the state’s case, victims have increasingly been recognized in statutes as having rights in the criminal disposition process. But the rights that exist in statute seldom have effective remedies and therefore often have not been honored in practice. Kilpatrick and Otto (1987), writing about victims’ rights, noted,

    Legislators should be careful . . . to [e]nsure that any rights conferred are real, that is, the victim has an avenue of redress should those rights be denied. Providing rights without remedies would result in the worst of consequences, such as feelings of helplessness, lack of control,...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Method
    (pp. 9-12)

    As the introduction noted, the purpose of the victims’ rights clinics is to advance victims’ rights through education, litigation, and direct representation of victims in individual criminal cases. Table 2.1 sets out more specifically our understanding of the goals of the NCVLI clinics. These include

    assist in enforcing rights for individual victims and getting them help for crime-related needs, thereby increasing satisfaction of victims with the justice process

    change attitudes of criminal justice officials toward victims’ rights and increase their knowledge about rights

    change the legal landscape: establish victim standing and develop positive case law

    increase compliance of criminal justice...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Survey of Criminal Justice Officials’ Attitudes Toward and Knowledge of Victims’ Rights
    (pp. 13-28)

    We conducted surveys of prosecutors, judges, victim advocates, and defense attorneys to determine whether they had changed their attitudes toward victims’ rights since their local clinics opened their doors. The surveys were fielded in the three states in which we were evaluating a clinic: South Carolina, Maryland, and Utah. In addition, we also fielded a survey in Colorado, where the victims’ rights clinic had not yet started to accept cases. Colorado offered us a unique opportunity to assess views of victims’ rights both before and after a victims’ rights clinic opened, unlike the other states, where we had to rely...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Determining Compliance with Victims’ Rights, Based on Prosecutor Records
    (pp. 29-38)

    One of the ways to assess the impact that clinics have had on the extent to which victims’ rights are honored is through analysis of court records. By comparing compliance with rights in individual cases before the clinic opened and cases in which the clinic represented the victims, we can gain a better understanding of how clinics directly affect the behavior of court officials in individual cases through advocacy work. By further comparing cases in which victims are represented by clinic attorneys and current cases in which victims have no representation, we can gain an understanding of the indirect effect...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Surveys of Victim Experience in the Criminal Justice System
    (pp. 39-46)

    The principal goal of the crime-victim legal clinics is to assist individual victims by advocating for their rights and by assessing their social service needs and referring them to clinicians and other service programs. We also sought to assess the clinics’ impact on victims’ satisfaction with the criminal justice process and its compliance with their rights. To make these determinations, we conducted telephone interviews of two samples of victims in each evaluation site, one drawn from the sample of cases at prosecutor offices and crime-victim legal clinics.

    To preserve victims’ confidentiality, the initial contact with victims from cases in the...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Community Impact
    (pp. 47-54)

    Community-level impacts of the clinics are probably the hardest to assess with some degree of rigor. We considered and rejected the idea of conducting community surveys as a second measure of community-level impact. Because there are no baseline community awareness measures, there is no good way to estimate change in awareness. (We do not think that community residents could reliably answer whether their awareness of victims’ rights has changed since their state clinic opened.) Moreover, our experience in conducting research in this field suggested that public awareness of rights for victims is very low. Instead, we conducted an analysis of...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Clinics’ Impact on the Legal Landscape
    (pp. 55-62)

    Legal rights for crime victims have been developed and expanded during the past three decades. These rights have transformed the relationship between the crime victim and the criminal justice system as victims gained the rights to be informed, present, and heard during the criminal and juvenile justice processes. This change has been driven largely by crime victims and survivors, with the support of advocacy organizations, leaders in the criminal justice field, and policymakers. Despite this remarkable progress in the passage of crime victims’ rights, few states—even those that have adopted constitutional amendments—provide recourse to victims when their rights...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Clinic Sustainability
    (pp. 63-66)

    From the beginning, the victims’ rights clinics have faced challenges in finding the funds to sustain their work. The original intent of the federal demonstration grant was to develop proof of concept so that other sources of funding could be found and potential funders convinced of the value of the model. The clinics have struggled, using primarily federal funds to cover costs longer than originally intended. But, in the current climate of austerity, the continuation of federal funding is uncertain.

    All clinics have relied on federal grant funding, principally that received through NCVLI. The crime victims’ rights clinics were initially...

  16. CHAPTER NINE Conclusions
    (pp. 67-70)

    When we began the impact evaluation, we acknowledged the difficulty in finding measurable effects of the victims’ rights clinics. The diverse set of effects that the clinics were trying to bring about—changes in attitudes toward victims’ rights among criminal justice officials but also in the larger community, increasing compliance with victims’ rights, establishing legal precedence for victims’ rights, and aiding individuals in navigating the justice process—required that we capture a range of measures in multiple sites. We had no benchmarks on which to draw in looking at attitudinal change because the evaluation was funded well after most of...

  17. APPENDIX A Survey for Colorado Criminal Justice Officials
    (pp. 71-78)
  18. APPENDIX B Survey for Maryland, South Carolina, and Utah Criminal Justice Officials
    (pp. 79-88)
  19. APPENDIX C Survey for Victims
    (pp. 89-106)
  20. APPENDIX D Case-File Data-Collection Form
    (pp. 107-108)
  21. References
    (pp. 109-110)