Monday, April 15, 2013

Restitution: A Fundamental Right for Victims

By National Crime Victim Law Institute

Victims of crime often suffer immeasurable harm as a result of the criminal conduct inflicted on them. The economic impact of such harm is rightly borne by the perpetrator, not the victim. Restitution is one mechanism by which the justice system can ensure that the perpetrator, not the victim, bears the burden. Restitution is ordered in criminal sentences and is money paid from the offender to the victim for losses that the victim suffered as a result of the offender’s crime. Ordering and securing collection of restitution is an important part of ensuring that victims are treated fairly and with dignity. Fortunately, every jurisdiction has a statutory provision providing a right to restitution, and at least eighteen states have enshrined the right in their constitutions. (Read more in NCVLI’s publication, A Summary of 12 Common Victims’ Rights). These restitution provisions have evolved out of a historical framework embodying both compensatory and penological (e.g., deterrence, rehabilitation, and accountability) aims.
Victims are fighting every day to secure full restitution orders.

Despite these laws affording victims statutory and constitutional rights to restitution, victims are fighting every day to secure full restitution orders and to recover even pennies on the dollar of those orders. NCVLI is a part of this fight. We are working to ensure that the right to restitution is meaningful so that victims are not asked to finance their own victimization.

As part of this fight we are working on four restitution cases pending in appellate courts right now! One of these is in front of the Oregon Supreme Court in a case in which defendant pled guilty to DUII and Assault IV and everyone in the case agreed on the economic losses of the victims. Despite this the trial court awarded the victims only 10% of their losses because the trial court thought the victims were “at fault” also. This insertion of what is known in civil law as “comparative fault” is a dangerous turn that could result in victims being put on trial and increased victim-blaming. NCVLI secured pro bono counsel for these victims and has submitted an amicus brief in the case!

In another case we are fighting in the Utah Supreme Court in a case in which defendant - convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor not involving intercourse - has objected to the victims recovering the costs of travel and lost wages related to their attendance at court proceedings. NCVLI is submitting an amicus brief on the law. In this and all of our restitution cases we pose the question - how can we ask victims to report crimes and participate in our justice system if we turn around and hand them a bill?

We passed laws nationwide to ensure that victims of crime do not have to finance their own victimization. We must now fight to ensure that those rights are meaningful!

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) is a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization located at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. NCVLI’s mission is to actively promote balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim-centered legal advocacy, education, and resource sharing. NCVLI achieves its mission through education and training; promoting the National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Attorneys; researching and analyzing developments in crime victim law; and participating as amicus curiae in court cases nationwide, and assisting crime victim attorneys, advocates, and victims by providing information on crime victim law. NCVLI’s website contains a library on victim law.

Reprinted and/or reproduced with permission of the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI), all rights reserved. NCVLI actively promotes balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim centered legal advocacy, education, and resource sharing. To view NCVLI’s library of crime victims’ rights publications, please visit

Friday, April 12, 2013

Protecting Our Future: Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

By Sheila Boxley, President & CEO, Child Abuse Prevention Center

An estimated 3.4 million referrals alleging child maltreatment were received by all 52 States’ Child Protective Services (CPS) according to the Child Maltreatment 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration Children’s Bureau. Three million different children received a CPS response that determined nearly 700,000 children were victims of child abuse and neglect. The rate is 9.1 victims for every 1,000 children. Victims in the age group of birth to one year had the highest victimization rate at 21.2 per 1,000. These are troubling statistics that demand a focus on child maltreatment prevention.

On behalf of the Child Abuse Prevention Center (CAP Center) we invite you to join us in recognizing April 2013 as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. In this annual opportunity to bring awareness to this critical issue, the CAP Center’s focus is on the importance of protective factors that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families.

Research tells us that what children learn throughout their early interactions with parents and caregivers becomes the foundation for all future development. While safe, nurturing relationships and stimulating, stable environments improve brain development and child well-being, neglectful or abusive experiences or unstable, stressful environments increase the odds of poor outcomes.

Parents and caregivers who have social connections and concrete supports in times of need are better able to provide safe environments and nurturing experiences for their children. By recognizing and building on existing strengths within communities and families, we can support all families in providing these positive and healthy environments for their children.

Investing in children today is an investment in tomorrow.
Child abuse prevention resources are available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau and the Child Welfare Information Gateway. The materials emphasize ways we all can contribute to the healthy development of children and families by incorporating protective factors into our everyday work and interactions with families. We encourage you to share these resources with your agency staff, community partners, and most importantly with the families you serve.

Please accept our sincere appreciation for the work you do each day to build promising futures for our nation’s children. Our children are tomorrow’s leaders, parents, and workforce. Investing in children today is an investment in tomorrow.

Sheila Boxley is President & CEO of the Child Abuse Prevention Center, an umbrella organization that houses Prevent Child Abuse California, the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Sacramento, Safe Kids California, California Family Resource Association, and Lift the Children. She has led the organization for 14 years, during which time it has expanded from a single county to programs in 34 California counties, five states, and two other countries. Sheila was recognized with a national award for her efforts at collaboration by the Child Welfare League of America and jointly by the League of California Cities, County Supervisors Association of California and California School Boards Association.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Join in Denim Day in LA & USA

By Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence

On Wednesday, April 24th, individuals, businesses, organizations and schools across the country and around the world will participate in the 14th Annual Denim Day in LA & USA. The Denim Day campaign started locally in Los Angeles in 1999 in response to an Italian Supreme Court ruling that suggested a woman could not be raped if she was wearing tight jeans.

In 1992, in a small town outside of Naples, Italy, a young woman accused her forty-five year old driving instructor of brutally raping her during a driving lesson. She told police that he drove her to an isolated area, forced her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and raped her. He was convicted on lesser charges and then convicted on all charges by an appeals court in 1998. He was sentenced to 34 months in prison before the case made its way to the Italian high court. There, the sentence was overturned based on the justices’ belief that, because the victim wore tight jeans, they could not be removed easily, and therefore, she must have helped her rapist remove them. This implied consensual sex, not rape. Naturally, the decision outraged lawmakers and organizations throughout Italy, and all over the world. Women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work and immediately, the California Senate and Assembly followed suit by wearing jeans on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento.

I was then and am now the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence. I saw the power behind the protests and created the first Denim Day in Los Angeles in 1999. The campaign engaged individuals, politicians, organizations and businesses by encouraging everyone to wear jeans as a visible sign of protest against the misconceptions surrounding sexual violence. “Dollars for Denim” drives raised money for local rape crisis centers, and with each new year, the campaign spread even further. Today, what started out as a citywide protest has become a national day of education that is now spreading globally.

In 2012, over 5 million people participated in Denim Day in LA & USA. The impact of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has not only expanded awareness about the campaign, but has also allowed participants as far away as Afghanistan and South Korea to show their support for sexual assault victims. Yet, as large as the campaign grows, it is supremely evident that misconceptions about rape and sexual assault still exist. In a year that has been dominated with headlines touting outdated, misguided and often absurd claims regarding sexual assault, it is imperative that this year’s campaign be our largest Denim Day to date. To get involved, visit the Denim Day in LA & USA website to register and find ways that you can participate in your area.

Patricia Giggans has been the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence since 1985. As Peace Over Violence’s Executive Director, she is responsible for overall management, fundraising. policy and volunteer activities for this non-profit organization. She has been active in violence against women and violence prevention issues for more than 35 years and is considered a national expert on sexual, domestic violence, teen dating violence and prevention.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Secretary of State — Safe at Home Program

By Debra Bowen, California Secretary of State

Crimes of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault affect millions of Americans each year. As California’s Secretary of State, I am proud to administer the Safe at Home address confidentiality program that offers anonymity to victims of these crimes.

Safe at Home participants use a free P.O. Box in Sacramento—instead of their home address—to help them maintain their privacy when receiving first-class mail, opening a bank account, filling out government documents, registering to vote, getting a California driver’s license, and much more. Since 1999, Safe at Home has helped to protect more than 6,000 survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault, as well as reproductive health care workers.
Safe at Home Program
P.O. Box 846
Sacramento, CA 95812

(877) 322-5227

(916) 651-1304

To enroll in the Safe at Home program, applicants need to contact one of many enrolling agencies that can be found on the Safe at Home website. The enrolling agencies are trained to help people apply for the program and answer any questions they may have.

Once enrolled into Safe at Home, participants receive an identification card and a letter confirming their enrollment that helps to explain the Safe at Home program to California business entities. California state and county government agencies must accept the Safe at Home post office box as the participant’s mailing address.

Participating in the Safe at Home program gives victims an additional tool in their overall safety plan.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen administers Safe at Home, the national model for confidential address programs, and authored some of the Safe at Home laws while previously serving as a state legislator. She served six years in the State Assembly and eight years in the State Senate, before being elected Secretary of State in 2006. She was reelected to her second term as Secretary of State in 2010. Secretary Bowen is a leader in open government reform, election integrity, and personal privacy rights.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Standing with Victims of Crime

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

Each year, the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) participates in the observance of California Crime Victims’ Rights Month, to show support for victims of crime, their families and survivors. The theme of this year’s month long observance, “Facing New Challenges; Finding New Hope,” is a great testament to CalVCP’s continuous efforts to respond to the needs of victims.

In commemoration of California Victim Rights Month, CalVCP has scheduled activities that will help educate victims about their rights and the many services offered to them throughout the state. CalVCP will be offering blogs written by some of California’s leaders in victims’ rights and services that offer information about many of the issues and obstacles that victims and survivors face.
Attendees of the 2012 Victims Rights Rally
unite for crime victims' rights

Once again, CalVCP will host its annual Victim Rights Rally on April 23 at our headquarters in Sacramento. I’m proud of this event as we bring together victims, survivors, advocates and government officials to help raise awareness of the services offered to victims. CalVCP will also be hosting its first ever “Victims' Rights Digital Town Hall” allowing victims, survivors, providers and advocates to participate from all around the state. The Digital Town Hall will be held on April 24 and 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and will focus on human trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence, physical assault, cultural barriers and valuable resources for victims and survivors.

As April is also National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, CalVCP will also conduct its annual Denim Day Denim Drive to collect denim clothing items for local charities while raising awareness to the issues surrounding sexual assault in California. The Denim Day Denim Drive will begin on April 2 and conclude on Denim Day, April 25. Collection bins can found in various locations around downtown Sacramento and are listed on our website at

California Crime Victim Rights Month is not only designed to raise awareness but to also spark action. I ask everyone to take the time to learn and understand their rights and educate themselves about the services available to them in our Golden State.

Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.