Over the past 45 years, the crime victims’ movement has made great strides toward meeting victims’ needs and has emerged as a powerful source of social, legal, and political change. Despite these advances, crime and violence continue to affect a significant number of people in the United States each year, and challenges persist to providing appropriate services for all victims. Although a variety of critical services exist for some crime victims, many marginalized people who experience violence often are left without adequate resources, support, and treatment options. Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services seeks to dramatically expand the vision and impact of the crime victim services field in order to meet the needs of all crime victims. It aims to do so by strategically defining the role of the victim services field in the nation’s efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of communities.

Vision 21 is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), the Vera Institute of Justice, and four other project partners. Our collective goal is to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the crime victims’ field in the United States, with each project partner conducting a critical portion of the analysis.

Vera's Center on Victimization and Safety is exploring the barriers and issues that continue to challenge the victim services field. The other partners are conducting analyses of the role of the crime victims’ field in efforts to address crime and delinquency in the United States; new trends and issues the field is beginning to address; and how the field can increase its capacity to better serve victims of crime. Through this effort, the partners will create a document, including comprehensive recommendations, that serves as a philosophical and strategic framework for moving the field forward.

Vera staff are working closely with practitioners, policymakers, researchers, victims, survivors, and other experts in victim services. With their critical input, Vera will conduct an analysis of the enduring challenges in victims’ services in order to better understand their causes and to identify practical strategies to overcome them in order to advance the field. Examples of these challenges include meeting the needs of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and stalking, as well as meeting the needs of specific populations including adolescent victims, victims with disabilities, older adult victims, and victims in Indian country. Our analysis includes conducting a comprehensive literature review, interviewing a variety of representatives from the field, and convening a two-day stakeholder forum.

Why the Project is Needed
We must critically assess these enduring challenges to fully understand their underlying causes and to strategize possible solutions. By reflecting upon the past 15 years of victim services and looking ahead, this analysis will challenge the victim services field and the nation to renew and refocus its efforts in meeting the needs of crime victims and survivors. Not until all victims and survivors have access to adequate and appropriate services and are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect will the ideals of this movement be realized. 

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Director, Center on Victimization and Safety