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Victims' Rights and Backlog Reduction Laws


The Right to be Treated with Fairness, Dignity, and Respect 

Twenty-three of the states' victims' rights constitutional amendments and many state-level victims' rights laws provide that crime victims shall be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect during all phases of the criminal justice process. This right is important to victims of sexual assault who have already endured and survived an especially brutal and personal crime. Hundreds of thousands of them have suffered a seemingly endless wait for justice as their sexual assault kit (SAK) sat untested or backlogged for years. Today, as these victims' SAKs move forward to be tested, the victims deserve to be treated in a way that preserves their dignity, shows them respect, and demonstrates fairness. In some jurisdictions, these rights may be interpreted to apply before a suspect is charged and during the time in which a victim's SAK is being forwarded for testing, when the results are being entered into the DNA database, and during any resulting investigation.

The following are examples of state constitutions and victims' bills of rights that have language that potentially grants these sexual assault victims the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect:

ARIZONA

Ariz. Const. art. II, §2.1. Victims' Bill of Rights.

(A) To preserve and protect victims' rights to justice and due process, a victim of crime has a right

1. To be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, throughout the criminal justice process.

MARYLAND

Md. Const. art. 47. Crime Victims’ Rights.

(a) A victim of crime shall be treated by agents of the State with dignity, respect, and sensitivity during all phases of the criminal justice process.

TEXAS

Tex. Const. art. I, § 30. Rights of Crime Victims.


 (a) A crime victim has the following rights: 

(1) the right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process.


This project is supported by Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K048 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.