History / Contacts
A broad, brief history of victim services
A Crime Victims Reparations Program was established in Louisiana in 1982 to assist victims of violent crimes with unrecovered costs associated with personal injury, death, or catastrophic property loss. The geographically diverse Crime Victims Reparations Board, supported by staff of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice (LCLE), receives applications and makes awards. Every sheriff’s office has a Crime Victim Reparations investigator, who works with victims locally to help them file claims.
For many years, law and policy have required the Parole Board and the Pardon Board to notify victims/survivors before holding a hearing.
The Division of Probation and Parole boasts the Department’s longest history of direct service to crime victims. A basic duty of probation and parole officers has always been to interview victims in order to make their experiences and losses part of the pre-sentence, pre-parole, and other reports prepared for decision makers. Officers help the courts and the Parole Board set restitution and manage its payment by offenders, notify victims when offenders are being scheduled for parole hearings, and inform victims about the possibility of registering for notification.
In the early 1990s, based on stringent new sex offender reporting requirements, the Office of Adult Services put in place mechanisms to identify and notify victims regarding the release of sex offenders whose victims were under age 18 at the time of the crime. This capability provided a base for the current, much broader program of automated victim notification letters.
In November 1993, the Crime Victims Services Bureau (CVSB) was established at Headquarters to offer crime victims easy access to information and registration. In 1995 basic bureau functions (registration, notification, and information) were added to law, witnesses were granted some of the same rights as victims, and the Children’s Code was amended to include rights for victims of certain felony-grade delinquent acts. In 1997 the CVSB established a toll-free telephone number (888-342-6110).
In the mid 1990s the legislature funded positions for victim assistance coordinators in the state’s District Attorneys’ offices. In 1997 the legislature proposed a victims rights amendment to the state’s constitution. In 1998 voters approved the amendment, which became Article I, Section 25. In 1999 legislators enacted laws to implement the constitutional provisions (Act 783 of 1999, effective January 1, 2000). Most of those provisions appear in La. R.S. 46:1841-1846 . Victim access to information about their rights received a significant boost from procedures implemented in 2000, especially the requirement that crime scene officers direct victims to a local contact person or agency for additional information and registration.
With that framework in place, collaboration between the department and victim-focused agencies and organizations increased. In 2000 a representative group planned and offered the first DOC/VAC Training Exchange. For two days corrections staff explained the classification process, operation of good time law, parole and pardon processes, daily prison routines, and victim notification procedures; VACs and representatives of MADD and the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault shared their understanding of the experience and lasting impacts of victimization and the challenges victims and survivors face within the justice system. The training exchange was repeated in 2004 and again in 2007-08, when it included two sessions, one in the southern half of the state and one in the northern half.
In keeping with national efforts to strengthen and support rights and services for crime victims, Louisiana applied for federal funding to develop and implement a state victim assistance academy. Under the leadership of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and with funding support from the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice, a cross sectional committee of justice system and victim support/advocacy representatives planned, staffed, and offered the first week-long Louisiana State Victim Assistance Academy (LSVAA) in June 2007 and a second one in June 2008. After a year-long gap necessitated by a search for replacement funding, the academy was held again in July 2010. It will be repeated at two-year intervals into the future bringing together state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates, and corrections personnel in an academic setting to learn from one another and discover ways of collaborating to better serve victims of crime.