FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ###
April 17, 2012
Washington, DC: An estimated 18.7 million violent and property crimes were committed in 2010, according to the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey. That amounts to one crime per resident of Florida or the New York City metropolitan area. And because fewer than half the crimes committed in this country are reported, the numbers don't tell the whole story. National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 22?28, highlights recent crime trends and underscores the fact that while the U.S. spends billions of dollars on crime, the majority of victims do not get the help they need.
"The public needs to understand the human impact of our national crime statistics," said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. "For example, we know that, 6.6 million people in this country are stalked every year, more than half a million are victims of intimate partner and domestic violence, and more than eight million are victims of identity fraud," she said. "There are also many other types of crime; as a nation, we must support all victims so they may come forward and receive the justice and services they need to help rebuild their lives."
Each state has victims' rights laws, and 32 states have constitutional victims' rights amendments. While these laws vary by state, they generally give victims the right to attend and be heard at criminal justice proceedings, apply for crime victim compensation, be notified about criminal justice proceedings or the status of offenders, and to be free from intimidation. All states have victim compensation funds, and more than 10,000 victim services have been established throughout the nation.
Nevertheless, victims cannot always realize these rights. As cases go through the criminal justice system, victims are often denied access to courtrooms or notification about legal proceedings or an offender's release, or even compensation they are entitled to receive. Rights are not universal, and they are often not enforced. Many victims receive no information about victim services, and those agencies that do provide service are often struggling to keep their doors open in these tough economic times.
"As a country, we spend $225 billion each year on policing, lawyers, and prisons," said Fernandez. "Unfortunately, only a small fraction of that amount is spent on programs and services for victims, who bear a great share of the residual cost of crime," she added. "Nationally, those costs add up to billions of dollars in medical expenses, property loss, pain and suffering, and mental health treatment."
To honor victims and raise awareness of these issues, communities throughout the nation are observing National Crime Victims' Rights Week with candlelight vigils, ceremonies, displays, and informational events. An online directory of national, state, local, and international services for crime victims is available from the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice.
For more information about National Crime Victims' Rights Week or crime victim issues, visit www.ncvc.org or call 202-467-8700. For detailed information about victims' rights, visit www.victimlaw.info.
The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation's struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives. For more information, visit www.ncvc.org.