A review of laws on victims' rights and surveys of more than 1,300 crime victims, 145 local criminal justice and victim service professionals, and State policy leaders and victim advocates formed the basis of an analysis of the implementation of statutory and constitutional rights for crime victims.
The statutory analysis focused on four core issue areas: rights of victims to be notified, to be present, and to be heard in the criminal justice process and the right to restitution from the offender. The research aimed to test the hypotheses that the strength of statutory protection would have a measurable impact on how crime victims were treated within the State, that crime victims in States with strong protection would have more favorable experiences than victims in other States, and that professionals from States with strong protection would have greater awareness of victims rights issues than their counterparts in other States. Results largely confirmed each hypothesis. Crucial factors through which victim policy is translated into practice include the laws themselves, the knowledge and motivation of the implementing officials, the availability of resources, and the motivation of officials. Findings also suggested ways to enhance the effectiveness of the laws and their implementation.