The Crime Victims' Rights Act: Rhetoric or Reality?




victims’ rights, policy analysis, narrative policy framework, social work


Crime victim’s rights legislation including the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 (VWPA) and the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 (CVRA) brought attention to the plight of the crime victim and called on justice professionals and the public to recognize victims’ value, worth, and role within a justice model that seeks to hold offenders accountable and increase public safety. The CVRA was the first federal policy to grant participatory rights to victims of crime; it served as a model statute for states enacting similar legislation. Beyond the eight participatory rights, implementation and administration of the CVRA is recommended but not required by law enforcement, prosecutors, or the judiciary. Instead, these justice professionals are encouraged to “make a good faith effort†in delivering these rights to victims of crime. This paper tells the story of the victims’ rights movement before utilizing the Narrative Policy Framework to analyze the CVRA.  Highlighting several key issues of relevance to the social work profession, a call to action is issued for social workers and policymakers to shift current narratives and more clearly define who constitutes a victim, how these rights are to be implemented and by whom, and to develop enforcement mechanisms. 

Author Biography

Patricia Lynne Sattler, University of Kansas

School of Social WelfareDoctoral Candidate


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