Improving Systems of Support for Crime Victims in Missouri

October 12, 2021

Many people who become victims of crime find themselves in the middle of a complicated criminal justice system that can be difficult to navigate. They may have trouble understanding what their rights are as victims, what supports and services are available, or if they are eligible for financial restitution. In recent decades, however, more states have expanded victims’ rights and the scope of services for victims. Now, Missouri will be the latest to take a massive step toward improving support for crime victims, a result of the state’s participation in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). The state embarked on JRI in 2018 with support from the U.S. DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

What’s Next

As part of the latest phase of Missouri’s JRI work, state leaders will connect with victims, service providers, and other criminal justice stakeholders to better understand and strengthen policies and practices related to victims’ rights. As part of this initiative, the CSG Justice Center will help the state conduct surveys and listening sessions to identify existing gaps and areas for improvement related to how victims participate in Missouri’s criminal justice system. Areas that will be explored include

  • Improving the notification system for victims, including making system training and information more accessible, and
  • Mapping the resources and funding available to victims and support organizations, including potential gaps in the current advocacy system.

Why Does it Matter?

Victims have specific rights in Missouri’s criminal justice system, including the rights to receive updates about their criminal case, request financial restitution from the person who harmed them, and give an impact statement during sentencing.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of public information, and oftentimes cultural and geographic barriers, many crime victims feel ignored by the criminal justice system, leading to a lack of engagement as their case moves through the system. This not only prevents crime victims from feeling empowered, but it can also interfere with law enforcement agencies’ ability to move forward, because they depend on victims to report crimes and participate in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.

The Bottom Line

The analysis conducted by the CSG Justice Center aims to shine light on victims’ experiences navigating Missouri’s criminal justice system, including how victims interact with other justice system stakeholders and what support resources currently exist or are needed. The findings from this research will be summarized as recommendations and next steps for Missouri state leaders by December 2021.

Sign up for the CSG Justice Center’s newsletters to receive future updates about this project and our other victims’ rights work.

 

Photo credit: eurobanks via Shutterstock

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-ZB-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Image for:
Celine Villongco Miles
Senior Policy Analyst, State Initiatives
Celine Villongco Miles works with the policy and communications teams, as well as regional offices, affiliates, and members, to promote strategies and best practices for victim-centered policies. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Celine was the statewide human trafficking
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coordinator for the Iowa Department of Justice, where she collaborated with statewide agencies and stakeholders to raise awareness and develop trauma-informed policies for victims of crime. She has also worked with Polaris in Washington, DC, and the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). Celine received a BS from Cornell University and an MA in public policy from Duke University.
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