Helping States Support Victims

April 19, 2021

Every year, millions of Americans are affected by crime, and many need ongoing care and resources as a result. Counseling, emergency housing, restitution, compensation, and other programs are critical components of the recovery process for crime victims.

States have three primary ways to assist survivors: managing restitution, compensating victims for certain expenses, and funding services through state and federal grants. However, they often struggle to identify and address the full range of crime victims’ needs in a consistent, timely, and compassionate manner. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center works with states to develop short- and long-term strategies to improve all of these mechanisms for assisting victims.

The CSG Justice Center partnered with the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) to create a new Restitution Resource Center (RRC) that offers free assistance to states as they seek to improve the quality of their victim restitution systems. NCVLI works to ensure that victims, advocates, and victims’ rights attorneys understand the scope of their rights, including restitution, and how to assert and seek enforcement of those rights in courts.

The RRC works with state agencies and local jurisdictions to effectively order, collect, disburse, fulfill, and enforce victim restitution. Help is available to select states as they advance data collection and sharing, improve coordination between various agencies, and develop policies that improve the management of restitution. The center also offers assistance related to restitution case law, legal practices, and victim rights.

The RRC also seeks to facilitate peer networks and information exchange. For example, contact the RRC to learn more about how Vermont’s Restitution Unit was created to help address the financial hardship caused to crime victims, how Hawaii was able to increase restitution collection by 139 percent from people who are incarcerated or on parole, or how Maricopa County, Arizona, established a restitution court.

For 40 years, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week has served as a time to lift up the experiences of victims and advocate for the supports and services they need. Through the RRC, the CSG Justice Center and NCVLI are proud to partner with states and local jurisdictions as they support the healing journeys of crime victims.

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