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Increasing Access to Comprehensive Legal Services for Crime Victims

/ Updates

Crime victims often face significant challenges in accessing comprehensive, trauma-informed legal services for myriad legal issues relating to their victimization. Our Crime Victims Justice Corps (CVJC) is bridging this gap by helping victims of crime access trauma-informed legal assistance. Hosted at legal services organizations across the country, Equal Justice Works Fellows provide legal services to human trafficking survivors and other crime victims, including survivors of campus sexual assault, hate crimes, fraud, identity theft, as well as immigrant victims of crime.

In the last several months, sixty-one CVJC Fellows have been working tirelessly to meet the multitude of legal needs of crime victims. Collectively, Fellows have served 1,190 crime victims, including 725 trafficking survivors. Of all those served, 706 of them received direct representation, while the remainder received brief service and/or advice and counsel. Fellows have assisted crime victims on a diverse range of legal services such as immigration, consumer/finance, gender-based violence, family law matters, and crime victims’ rights enforcement in criminal proceedings. At South Carolina Legal Services, Fellow Diana Idiaghe helped a survivor clear her criminal record stemming from her victimization and assisted another survivor with regaining custody of her child.

Along with legal advice and representation, outreach and education efforts have been a key component of CVJC. In the first quarter of the program, more than half of the Fellows conducted educational activities, including training 3,234 people and distributing at least 5,037 outreach materials. To help identify survivors of human trafficking and other crimes and inform them of available services, Fellow Alina Launchbaugh from Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. created a handout listing all of the civil legal services provided by her  organization, including services for legal issues that may not be apparent at first. At Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc., Fellow Ashilee Dickinson reestablished a 24-hour hotline to serve survivors of campus sexual assault.

The needs of crime victims are profound and require long-term multi-disciplinary responses. In the short time that CVJC Fellows have been in the field, they have made remarkable strides in ensuring human trafficking survivors and other crime victims receive the right legal assistance to rebuild their lives. Learn more about the CVJC Fellows who are working to deliver civil legal assistance and enforce the rights of crime victims.

CVJC is supported by an award from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Award Number 2017-MU-MU-K131, and private funding. The opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

*From June 1 to December 31, 2018

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow