The Office for Victims of Crime: History, Role & Purpose

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  • 0:01 Office for Victims of Crime
  • 0:59 Background of the OVC
  • 2:29 The FUND
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

In this lesson, you will learn about the history of the Office for Victims of Crime and how it came out of the victims' rights movement in the United States during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. You will also discover the role and purpose of this unique organization.

Office for Victims of Crime

When a person becomes a victim of crime, they might feel violated, scared, angry, alone, and humiliated. They may want to know that there are resources, programs, and individuals out there to assist them as they begin to rebuild their lives. Where does one even begin to search for these things?

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is one of the seven branches within the Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice. It is designed to help victims deal with the emotional, psychological, and monetary issues that occur as a result of crime. They act as a vast resource for crime victims to understand, process, and move through the criminal justice system. In this lesson, you will learn a bit more about the history, role, and purpose of the Office for Victims of Crime.

Background of the OVC

To understand why the OVC was created, we must first discuss the victims' rights movement that began in the United States during the 1960s. It was the time when an emerging sub-discipline of criminology was gaining momentum called victimology. For the first time ever, researchers were interested in how crime affected the victim. Because of its noble purpose, the field of victimology quickly gained the interest of scholars, researchers, activist groups, and eventually legislatures. Once in the spotlight, the victim was now being seen for what he or she was - as someone in need of support, resources, and compensation. Soon victim compensation programs were introduced, and there was significant growth in victim activism.

The 1970s showed continual support and development of processes and programs to better assist victims of crime. The 1980s brought new contributors to the crime victims' movement, including the development of the OVC in 1988. The OVC became necessary due to an amendment to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, which tasked the OVC with administering the Crime Victims Fund (the FUND). The OVC serves as a watch guard over the FUND to ensure ethical, timely, and proper distribution.

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