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Work to Advance Crime Victims' Rights in Minnesota Continues 30 Years After Monumental Bill
Several events to honor National Crime Victims’ Rights Week planned in Twin Cities metro area, Willmar
Minnesota crime victims have the right to participate in the criminal justice process today due in large part to the signing of Minnesota’s Crime Victim Bill of Rights 30 years ago. The law was the first-of-its-kind in the state that provided a comprehensive set of rights for crime victims.
“Prior to the 1983 signing of the bill, if you were the victim of a crime in Minnesota, you had few rights or services to help you rebuild your life,” said Kelly Moller, Minnesota Alliance on Crime (MAC) executive director. “In the 30 years since, the process to expand upon those rights and ensure they are becoming more widely recognized is moving forward thanks to decades of advocacy and the help of hundreds of victim advocates throughout Minnesota.”
Several milestones for crime victims have been reached since the signing of the bill:
- 1985—Legislature enacts law establishing the Office of Crime Victims Ombudsman (OCVO)—the first victim rights compliance office in the nation.
- 1988—The right to give a victim impact statement becomes law—crime victim rights statute amended to include specific provisions related to domestic violence cases.
- 1996—Legislature expands victim notification rights to require notice of bail hearings to victims of domestic violence and harassment.
- 2005—Definition of “victim” is expanded to include family members of a minor, incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased person.
For a complete timeline of Minnesota and national crime victim rights milestones, visit http://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ojp/Documents/2013-crime-victim-rights-milestones.pdf.
The 30-year anniversary of Minnesota’s Crime Victim Bill of Rights highlights this year’s observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 21-27), which began in 1981 as a means to increase public awareness of the wide range of rights and services available to people who have been victimized by crime.
“People often do not think about the rights or needs of crime victims until they or loved ones have been victimized,” Moller said. “Crime Victims’ Rights Week not only helps raise awareness about victims’ rights, but it reminds us all that we can be part of the solution to crime.”
Minnesota Law provides victims of crime with several rights, including:
- The right of notification—right to be notified of your rights as a crime victim, the prosecution process and the right to participate in it.
- The right to protection from harm—right to a secure waiting area during court proceedings; right to request that home and employment address, telephone number and birth date be withheld in open court.
- The right to participate in the prosecution process—right to request a speedy trial; right to provide input in a pretrial diversion decision.
- The right to apply for financial assistance—right to apply for financial assistance from the state if they have suffered economic loss as a result of a crime.
To view a more complete list of crime victims’ rights, visit https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ojp/help-for-crime-victims/Pages/crime-victims-rights.aspx.
Crime Victims’ Rights Week Events
In collaboration with MAC, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs and its partners are sponsoring several events in the Twin Cities metro area and Willmar during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. All the events are free and open to the public. They feature make-and-take art activities for kids, information on crime prevention and services available to crime victims, and prize giveaways.
- April 19 (Friday prior to CVRW), 12–5 p.m., Cash Wise, 1300 Fifth St. SE.
- April 23, 5–8 p.m., Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA, Healthy Kids Day, 1000 Lakeland Drive SE.
- April 25, 6–8:30 p.m., Barnes & Noble (HarMar Mall), 2100 N. Snelling Ave., Roseville, Minn.
- April 27, 12–8 p.m., (St. Paul Art Crawl) Minnesota State Arts Board, Park Square Court, Suite 200, 400 Sibley St., St. Paul.
- April 25, 11a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Learn how pets can assist crime victims as therapy animals—presented by national expert Allie Phillips from the National District Attorneys Association. To register, visit www.mnallianceoncrime.org.
Note: Artwork submitted to the Minnesota Youth Calendar Contest depicting ideas about crime prevention and a world without crime will be displayed at all events.
About the Office of Justice Programs
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides leadership and resources to reduce crime, improve the functioning of the criminal justice system and assist crime victims.
Established in 2003, OJP:
- Works to protect crime victims’ rights.
- Administers grants to local programs for assistance to crime victims.
- Provides training and technical assistance to improve the functioning of Minnesota’s criminal and juvenile justice systems; and reduce crime, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and violence.
- Provides research and data; develops reports on a variety of criminal justice topics.
- Provides reparations benefits to victims and families for losses resulting from a violent crime.
- In fiscal year 2012, OJP awarded $32,530,798 in grants to programs that provide direct services and advocacy for victims of child abuse, domestic and sexual violence and general crime.
- OJP’s Crime Victim Reparations program received 1,555 new claims and approved $2.3 million in awards in fiscal year 2012 (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012).
- OJP’s Crime Victim Justice Unit opened 30 formal cases, provided informal assistance to many dozens more and had more than 1,400 contacts with victims, criminal justice professionals and members of the public in fiscal year 2012.
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov