RISE Background

In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. §3771. The CVRA sets forth eight specific rights for crime victims and details how victims can assert and seek enforcement of those rights during the criminal investigation and prosecution of their offender. CVRA rights attach to federal criminal justice proceedings. States across the country have laws (found in the constitutions and/or statutes) with rights similar to the CVRA. In 2002 OVC first funded a national effort to create victims’ rights enforcement legal clinics, together with a training and technical assistance provider, which worked to ensure that victims were accorded their rights at the state and federal levels.

Over the last several years, OVC has supported various civil legal assistance initiatives to help address myriad civil legal needs of victims in the aftermath of a criminal act. While these efforts have encouraged, and in some instances required, the provision of legal services to aid victims’ rights enforcement in criminal cases, many victims remain unaware of their rights and are without support to assert and seek enforcement of those rights during the criminal investigation and prosecution of their offender. Moreover, many civil legal attorneys who are experienced with providing services to victims have not yet incorporated victims’ rights enforcement into their practice. Notably, crime victims frequently need assistance with both the enforcement of their rights in criminal proceedings and advocacy on the collateral civil matters that result from their victimization. Prosecutors, criminal justice professionals, attorneys, advocates, and other professionals working with victims also need training and support to better understand crime victims’ rights, the significance of those rights, and how to secure enforcement of those rights. The RISE Project is intended to expand on federal, state, local, military and tribal efforts to enforce crime victims’ rights and provide crime victims with access to legal representation to assert and seek enforcement of their rights throughout criminal justice processes.

This Project is supported by Grant No. 2018-V3-GX-K018, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Project are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.