During the week of April 25-May 1, 1999, all Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) institutions will
be promoting public awareness in commemoration of National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
This year's theme, "Victims' Voices: Silent No More," emphasizes the power of the personal
story of victims, and how their individual and collective voices have improved our justice
system, and made our communities safer.
Just 20 years ago, crime victims were afforded few rights; their voices were muted, and limited
services were available to provide them with support and assistance. This is no longer the case.
Today victims have powerful voices in our criminal justice system and they play an important
role in making offenders accountable for their actions. The change in victims' roles resulted in
large part from the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982, the Crime Control Act of 1990,
the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, as well as the Attorney General's
Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. Based on these provisions, the BOP has
established procedures to further meet the needs of crime victims and witnesses.
On the national level, the BOP has established a victim and witness notification program for
qualifying individuals. Under this program, victims and witnesses are advised when an offender
is being released from prison, dies, escapes, is furloughed, or is placed in a community
corrections program. The victims and witnesses are also notified and may appear in person or
provide a written statement to the U.S. Parole Commission if the offender is eligible for parole
and is receiving an in-person parole hearing. A toll-free number 1-800-359-3267 (and in the
Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, 202-307-0222) has been established to provide victims and
witnesses current information about an offender's status, address concerns regarding any
notification they have received, or assist in determining whether a particular person who they see
in the community could be an offender about whom they have a concern.
Currently, the BOP monitors approximately 4,000 Victim and Witness Notification Program
inmates who have more than 14,000 identified victims/witnesses to be notified of release or
release-related activities. In addition, during FY 1998, the BOP facilitated the collection (via the
Inmate Financial Responsibility Program) of $5.8 million from inmates with court-ordered
financial obligations. The majority of these funds are distributed, through U.S. Attorneys' Offices
and the Department of Justice's Crime Victims Fund, to victim assistance and support groups or
as direct compensation to victims for losses resulting from crime.
The BOP is also providing victims a voice in the criminal justice process through Victim Impact
Panels. These panels, held at various locations throughout the country, permit victims of crime to
relate to offenders the effects of criminal behavior and how being victimized has altered their
For additional information regarding crime victims' issues you can visit the Justice Department's
Office for Victims of Crime web site at http://www.ojp.usoj.gov/ovc.