There is a system of legal and social institutions to oversee and enforce criminal laws. When the crime victim advocacy programs began, they were not a part of the traditional criminal justice system. Authorities took years to consider and legally merge it into the government system. Crime Victim advocates focus on providing legal, emotional, and medical care for the victims of crime. Law enforcement agencies, parole agencies, custodial institutions, and the department of corrections are part of the criminal justice system. Victim advocates are trained professionals with a formal education in criminal justice, criminology, social work, or psychology.
The role of a crime victim advocate is pivotal in the criminal justice system. They are a support system for the crime victims and assist them in recovering from the trauma. There are many kinds of victim advocate services; system-based, police-based, court-based, community-based, and some individuals work voluntarily. Dealing with a victim requires specific skills to understand their position. If you have wanted to know how to become a victim advocate, then completer your formal education. It is also essential to work on building skills like empathy and trustworthiness. Here are some crucial aspects of the role of victim advocate in the criminal justice system:
- Save The Personal Identity Of Victim
This is, in fact, probably the most crucial role of the crime victim advocate’s job. Revealing unnecessary information about the crime victim can put their lives in danger. The law refrains the authorities from sharing the personal information of a victim in public. Victim advocates safeguard the victim’s personal information, although the victims can go public about the incident and their identity if they want. Right from the start, the victim advocates brief the victims about data privacy and policies. Firms that provide legal services to crime victims have strict rules against disclosing a victims’ personal data with a third person without their consent.
- Safeguard the Crime Victim’s Rights
Crime victims have statutory rights, and most are unaware of them. A crime victim advocate provides a copy of this legal document to the victim. Crime victim advocates ensure that all parties who get in touch with the victim of crime are professional enough to protect the victim’s identity and fundamental human rights. Many individuals want to help the victims by providing every kind of support. A crime victim advocate’s responsibility is to make sure that the victim gets all the support they may need without being exploited.
- Personal Advocacy
Personal advocacy is essential for crime victims. Crime victims belong to different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Language barriers or racial stereotyping may become a hindrance in getting assistance. In these cases, cultural-specific advocacy is required. Crime victim advocates use their resources to provide appropriate services to overcome such hurdles in delivering justice. They help the victim regain and strengthen their self-empowerment and guide them about the legal parameters every step of the way.
- Emotional Support
Crime affects everyone differently. Victims of crimes face emotional and mental trauma. Coping with this trauma requires a highly effective support system. Crime Victim advocates act as counselors; they spend time with the victims and listen to whatever they have to say. They are highly professional individuals who analyze the victim’s current emotional situation and help them escape the turmoil. With their excellent listening skills, they rebuild the victim’s confidence and encourage them to let go of the distressing experience. A crime victim needs a peaceful environment to relax their mind; it is the advocate’s responsibility to ensure they get this physical and mental space.
- Resources And Referrals
Crime victims are often unaware of their rights. Victim advocates use their knowledge to connect victims with various resources to fulfill their social, emotional and financial needs. They give the victim detailed feedback about state crime victim reparation laws and emergency funds laws. Depending on the nature of the crime, every state allocates a budget for crime victims. The court orders the offender to pay a specific amount of money to the victim. In case the offender does not comply with court orders, it is the victim advocate’s responsibility to draft a strategy and ensure the victim is compensated. Applying for resources and referrals is a long process, and it needs proper documentation. Victim advocates carry out all the paperwork and try to provide maximum comfort and convenience to their clients.
- Organizing Support Groups
Some victims find it easy to express themselves amongst people with similar experiences. Victim advocates organize a support group where victims share their experiences and learn from each other. The advocates ensure the confidentiality of these meetings. Victim advocates have years of experience, and they know the importance of healthy interactions for the recovery process. In fact, there is a proper curriculum designed for victim support groups. Advocates are also responsible for closely monitoring the outcome of these support groups.
- Medical And Mental Health
Crime Victim advocates are often well-connected with hospitals, mental health clinics, and other healthcare providers. They identify the victim’s health needs and contact the concerned authorities for medical support. Gathering medical records and suggesting treatments is also the advocate’s responsibility. In some cases, the victim refuses to get medical and mental help; it is the advocate’s job to highlight the importance of getting treatment and to convince them in the long run.
The Final Word
Victim advocates play a pivotal role in the criminal justice system by ensuring that victims of crime are given their due rights and justice. Their role becomes even more significant in a legal system that is ineffective, compromised, and plagued with patriarchy. Without them, these individuals would have a tough time dealing with their trauma and life in general.