Victims of Juvenile Crime

Trend: Victims and victims organizations have increased visibility and active participation in the juvenile justice process.

More and more juvenile courts and probation departments are considering the principles of restorative justice. This model recognizes that when an offense occurs, an obligation to the victim and community is incurred and that victims must be active participants in the justice process. State legislatures have publicly acknowledged juvenile crime victims by passing laws that recognize the harm and inconvenience they experience and their need for reparations. From 1992 through 1995, 20 States enacted laws that extended certain rights to juvenile crime victims.

In 1996 and 1997, an additional 12 States added victims provisions: Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont. Most of the new legislation focused on three main areas: disclosure of information about the offender and his or her family (12 States); defining victims rights (10 States); and opening hearings to victims (9 States) (see table 7). Additional areas that increased the role of victims in the process include:

bullet Notifying victims of hearings or offenders' release from custody.
bullet Establishing a victims bill of rights for juvenile crime victims or including them under an existing victims bill of rights.
bullet Submitting a victim impact statement.
bullet Establishing a victims bureau for dispensing services.

table 7

State Legislative Responses to Violent Juvenile Crime: 1996-97 Update Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  November 1998