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Development of a National Study of Victim Needs and Assistance

NCJ Number
Date Published
162 pages
This document presents a study on the needs of victims of crimes.
The study’s goals were to find out what the material and psychological needs of crime victims are; where victims go for help; whether victims’ needs were being met; and how these needs differ for rural, suburban, and urban victims, and according to the crime. Data were collected by a telephone survey of crime victims across six sites, contextual analysis, focus groups, and interviews. Results indicate that crime victims generally had many of their needs met by their informal support networks (with the exception of domestic violence victims), and their biggest unmet needs are obtaining more information from law enforcement and criminal justice agencies regarding case status. Results also suggest that victims were not consistently receiving information about monetary compensation. Victims reported that their informal support networks met their need for someone to listen to them when they were upset. Most did not report turning to formal service agencies to meet that need. Victims are not consistently informed about their rights. Race emerged as a determinant of how many unmet needs a victim was likely to have. The racial disparity is at its peak in urban settings. Non-White burglary victims had especially high numbers of unmet needs. Active individualized outreach by a victim assistance program was associated with greater victim awareness of the program. Victim assistance programs are still reaching relatively small numbers of victims, and meeting a relatively small number of needs. Despite years of reform, police and judge training, and other interventions, the vast majority of domestic violence victims still do not feel safe. They are still having negative experiences with the police and negative experiences in the court. 17 figures, 33 tables, 22 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002