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Crime Victim Awareness and Assistance Through the Decades

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2019
5 pages
Publication Series

This article reviews the evolution of crime victim awareness and assistance in the United States from a landmark report in 1967 through the efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to expand victimization research in 2018.


In its 1967 landmark report "The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society," the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice noted that one of the most neglected subjects in the study of crime was its victims. Little was done to address this circumstance until 1974, when the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) began focusing on the needs of crime victims. This effort was energized at the time by NIJ-funded research that found the main reason for unsuccessful prosecutions was the failure of the criminal justice system to gain the cooperation of crime victims. In the same year, NIJ launched a new initiative to fund research that analyzed the needs and problems of crime victims. Over the decades since then, NIJ has continued to fund research on issues critical to victim recovery and the evaluation of victim services. This article also notes the features of early (1974) victim and witness programs, such as the federal grant to the National District Attorneys Association for the creation of the first victim and witness programs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Brooklyn, New York. Other significant efforts for crime victims noted in this article are the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime (1982), the Violence Against Women Act passed by Congress in 1994, and two NIJ-funded studies (2002 and 2003) that examined the needs of crime victims and how they use available services. In 2013, OVC released "Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report."

Date Published: June 1, 2019