Enacted: Jan 1994
The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) is committed to promoting services and programs that meet the needs and interests of crime victims. Inherent in this commitment is the belief that victims have an integral and important role that contributes to the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.
Probation and parole agencies are in a unique position to make key contributions that address victims' needs and interests. Community sanctions often provide offenders with the opportunity to be held accountable for the harm inflicted on victims and, in some cases, to provide reparation to victims and to society as a whole.
However, APPA realizes that victims have myriad needs and interests and that not all of their needs or concerns can be addressed solely by probation and parole professionals. When those needs are wholly or in part outside the mandate of community corrections, agency staff should endeavor to coordinate services with appropriate victim service, government, or allied criminal justice agencies that are best suited to the particular needs of the victims. APPA commits its energies and resources to being an integral component of a multidisciplinary approach within the parameters of our mandates to providing comprehensive services that help victims in the reconstruction.
The American Probation and Parole Association strongly supports the provision of effective community-based correctional intervention and supervision that are critical to reduce the risk of further victimization. Moreover, probation, parole, and other community-based correctional professionals should be acquainted with and sensitive to the needs of victims while performing their primary service responsibilities to the public and to offenders. This acquaintance and sensitivity must be reflected in agency programming, particularly as mandated by law.
Presentence reports should contain information regarding losses suffered by the victim, including financial, psychological, and physical losses. Restitution and/or other compensatory sanctions are still, in many jurisdictions, the primary service performed for the victim. Consequently, these services must receive high enforcement priority and, hopefully, be augmented by other victims services.
Community service is regarded as an excellent victim restoration model that can benefit individual victims or society in general. Specific reparation/restitution programs in which the offender performs a service directly to the victims or with the assistance of a victim service program should be encouraged. APPA also endorses community service as a condition of supervision for offenders selected for participation in community-based correctional programs including fine option and parole release programs.
Victims have a legitimate right and need to know how the criminal justice system works. Public information packages that explain the policies and procedures of probation/parole agencies should be made available to victims, and should identify any services that may be available to assist them. Consideration should be given to the appointment of a "Victim Liaison" officer who could ensure that information and assistance is provided to victims and that referrals are provided to other agencies when warranted. Probation and parole agencies should initiate efforts to become involved with victim service agencies and coalitions to improve opportunities for providing quality information and referrals.
Every effort should be made for Victim Impact Statements to be included in Presentence Reports for adult as well as juvenile offenders when the victim does not choose to directly allocute in court or in addition to allocution. Victim Impact Statements should be forwarded to correctional authorities in order to assist them in making appropriate classification, programming, and release decisions including restitution and "no contact" orders as conditions of release upon request from the victim.
Victims have a right to financial restitution and compensation. The absence of resources at the time of sentencing does not excuse the offender from the obligation to repay his/her victim(s).
Particular attention should be given to the needs of victims of family violence, including child abuse and neglect and elder neglect and abuse. Partner abuse victims should be involved in the supervision process if they so choose as they are at extreme risk of further crime victimization by the same offender.
Victims are entitled to be present at sentencing proceedings. Whenever appropriate or reasonable, victims should be notified prior to probation/parole hearings which concern pardon, release or early termination decisions. Victims should have the option to submit, in advance, a written statement to probation/parole authorities prior to or at these post-sentence considerations as well as have the right to be present as an observer and to provide testimony. Policies and procedures should be implemented that entitle victims to receive, upon request, information concerning the offender's status in the community and/or institutional release plans.
Innovative programs such as Victim/Offender Reconciliation in which trained mediators help offenders and victims explore issues of accountability and restorative justice and arrive at a settlement acceptable to both should be implemented. It is also recognized that victim/offender reconciliation is not always appropriate and that participation should be mutually agreed upon; either party should have the right to refuse such interaction. This is a critical point with victims of domestic violence where mediation/reconciliation methodologies should never be used.
It is further recognized that in cases where the court mandated no contact with the victim by the offender, it is incumbent upon the probation/parole officer to ensure that enforcement of the condition is kept in strict accordance.
APPA believes that, upon request from the victim, sex offenders should receive mandatory testing for H.I.V., and that victims of these crimes who request test results should receive such notification.
Probation and parole agencies should also develop strategies that provide in-service training regarding victims' rights, issues and needs at the time of new employee orientation and as a component of on-going professional development for existing staff.
Collaborative relationships that foster cross-training should be established with victim service programs to ensure the promotion of improved services for victims of crime in our society.