School navigation

National Crime Victim Law Institute

NCVLI Staff Profile - Meg Garvin

November 07, 2017

  • News Image

Meg Garvin joined NCVLI in 2003 as a Staff Attorney and became Executive Director in 2008. Click here to Meg’s bio or read on to learn more about Meg in her own words.

When someone asks you why victims’ rights are important, what do you tell them?

Fundamentally, criminal justice must be about the human beings impacted by crime—both the victim and the defendant.  When our system ignores the victim, or worse when it treats victims as merely pieces of evidence in the case, it contributes to their trauma.  The long-term impacts of this include individuals whose path to surviving is steeper, and a community that loses faith in the system.  We must be better than this. Victims’ rights compel the system to be better; to pay attention to the individual, human victims and to treat them with dignity.  When the criminal justice system does this it is a positive force for the community. 

What would you most like NCVLI or the victims’ rights movement to accomplish in the next ten years? Twenty years?

In the next five years I would like NCVLI to have an even more active pro and low bono legal network.  Ideally, we would have a “go to” lawyer in every corner of every state in this country so that each time a survivor in need contacted us we have a trained lawyer ready to serve.  Imagine the impact of that – every survivor having access to no cost legal services to protect their rights – it would be revolutionary! 

Over the next twenty years I have dreams of many accomplishments for the movement; focusing on just four I would like  

(1) the victims’ rights movement to be seen as fundamental to and not distinct from criminal justice reform;

(2) victims’ rights enforcement to be a daily reality in courts such that victims having lawyers assert their rights and seek review when necessary is common place in every jurisdiction;

(3) the multi-state bar exam to include at least one question about victims’ rights in criminal procedure so that every student in every law school in this country had to study victims’ rights; and

(4) for the United States Supreme Court to hear a case brought by a victims’ rights attorney and to issue a meaningful decision that filters into popular culture the way Miranda has for defendants.

If you could change one thing about the current victims’ rights environment, be it legal, political, public recognition, victim social/psychological services, etc., what would it be?

I would remove the fear. Victims’ rights are about ensuring a meaningful role for victims in our justice system, not about diminishing others’ rights or roles. We should embrace not fear hearing from the people most impacted by crime.

Who or what inspires you?

In the day-to-day, two groups of people inspire me.  First, survivors; bearing witness to their resilience has been perhaps the greatest gift that this job has afforded me.  Second, NCVLI’s staff; the 12 people working at NCVLI are intelligent, generous, empathetic, funny and forgiving; I am beyond fortunate to work here.

What are your hobbies?

I love soccer – I love playing it and watching it.  I am a huge fan of both the Timbers and the Thorns.  I also try to catch games around the country when I’m traveling.  I also love reading – philosophy, novels, political science – all of it.  I am taking a course on international human rights now that is truly inspiring!  Finally, cooking and watching shows about cooking.  If I could be a contestant on Chopped I would be giddy!