Office for Victims of Crime Essay

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The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. It was established by Congress in 1988 through an amendment to the 1984 Victims of Crime Act to provide guidance and funding on behalf of crime victims. The mission of OVC is to enhance the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims.

OVC provides federal funds to support victim compensation and assistance programs across the nation. The agency also provides training for a variety of professionals who work with victims, develops and disseminates publications, supports projects to enhance victims’ rights and services, and attempts to educate the public about victim issues. Funding for OVC’s programs comes from the Crime Victims Fund, which was established by the Victims of Crime Act to support victim services and training for advocates and professionals. Crime Victims Fund dollars come from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties, and special assessments collected by federal courts, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Private gifts, bequests, or donations may also be deposited into the Crime Victims Fund.

OVC accomplishes its mission through five divisions that manage specific program areas: Federal Assistance, Program Development and Dissemination, State Compensation and Assistance, Training and Information Dissemination, and Terrorism and International Victim Assistance Services.

The Federal Assistance Division (FAD) includes American Indian and Alaska Native initiatives. The division distributes funds to nonprofit organizations, federal and military criminal justice agencies, and American Indian and Alaska Natives to support training for service providers and direct services for victims, including crisis counseling, temporary shelter, and travel expenses for going to court. FAD sponsors programs to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse in Indian Country, including establishing and training multidisciplinary teams to handle child sexual abuse cases.

The Program Development and Dissemination Division (PDD) develops training and technical assistance, demonstration programs, and initiatives to respond to emerging issues in the victim assistance field. The division is responsible for coordinating public outreach and awareness, and it also provides information and assistance on highly technical victims’ issues, including services for trafficking victims, victims with disabilities, and victims of mentally ill offenders. In addition, PDD works with nongovernmental, community-based, and other organizations to identify promising practices in serving crime victims; it monitors grants to such organizations, provides training and technical assistance to grantee organizations, and prepares reports regarding program development, implementation, evaluation, and impact.

The State Compensation and Assistance Division (SCAD) administers two major formula grants for state crime victim compensation and state-administered local assistance programs. The state victim compensation programs reimburse victims for crime-related expenses such as medical costs, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages or support. Victim assistance grants are made to domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, child abuse programs, and victim service units in law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, hospitals, and social service agencies. SCAD monitors the grants it awards and proactively develops and revises guidelines and policies regarding the implementation of Victims of Crime Act victim assistance and compensation grant programs.

The Training and Information Dissemination Division (TID) coordinates the dissemination of training and technical assistance efforts with the OVC divisions, manages the OVC professional development program, and manages educational and training initiatives such as the National Victim Assistance Academy and the State Victim Assistance Academies. TID also manages the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center, the OVC Resource Center, education and outreach initiatives, and the publication and dissemination of OVC materials and grant products.

The Terrorism and International Victim Assistance Division develops programs to respond to victims of terrorism, mass violence, commercial exploitation, international trafficking of women and children, and other crimes involving U.S. and foreign nationals both in the United States and abroad.

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