There is no more important function of our safety and justice systems than protecting crime victims and those who are at-risk of becoming a victim of crime.
Despite this foundational goal, few safety and justice policy debates are informed by a comprehensive examination of the experiences and views of the nation’s diverse crime survivors.
The United States is in the midst of a significant shift
in criminal justice policy. For the first time in decades, criminal justice practitioners, lawmakers, and the general public are rethinking sentencing laws, prison spending, and the best ways to address crime and violence.
There has never been a more important time to investigate and elevate the perspectives of those most commonly victimized by violence and crime. If new approaches to safety and justice do not incorporate the voices of crime survivors, this new era of reform risks failing to deliver on the breakthrough the country needs.
One in four people have been a victim of crime in the past 10 years, and roughly half of those have been the victim of a violent crime
Victims of crime are more likely to be: low-income, young, people of color
Violent crime victims are four times as likely to be repeat crime victims of four or more crimes
This changing landscape presents an important opportunity to correct misperceptions that have driven public policy in the past, and gather new information that can help shape smarter approaches to safety and justice.
To begin filling the gap in available and representative data on who crime victims are and their policy priorities, in April of 2016, Alliance for Safety and Justice commissioned the first-of-its-kind National Survey
of Victims’ Views. This report describes the findings from this survey and points to opportunities for further research and reform to advance polices that align with the needs and perspectives of victims.
Perhaps to the surprise of some, victims overwhelmingly prefer criminal justice approaches that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment and strongly prefer investments in crime prevention and treatment to more spending on prisons and jails. These views are not always accurately reflected in the media or in state capitols and should be considered in policy debates.
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