Resources For Victims & Witnesses

Information about notifications, payments, and complaint procedures for victims or witnesses of federal crimes.

Victim Rights

The Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004, Title 18 USC 3771, affords crime victims eight specific rights.

  1. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
  2. The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
  3. The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
  4. The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
  5. The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
  6. The right to full and timely restitution provided by law.
  7. The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
  8. The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.

Victim & Witness Notifications

The Victim/Witness Notification System (VNS) is designed to provide timely information to victims of
federal crime in regards to significant events that may occur throughout the criminal justice process.

Victim/Witness Notification System (VNS) Overview

The Bureau's Victim/Witness Notification Program was established as a result of the 1982 Victims and Witness Protection Act, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and the Attorney General's Guidelines for Victims and Witness Assistance. A major goal of these directives is to ensure all law enforcement agencies advise victims and witnesses of critical stages in the criminal justice process. In 2002, to respond to the needs of crime victims and witnesses, the Bureau implemented the automated and free service called the Victim Notification System (VNS) in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Executive Office for the U.S. Attorneys' office. In 2004, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service became a partner in the system.

Types of Notifications

Imprisonment
The Bureau will provide notification to the victim/witness upon the inmate's initial commitment.

Release
Before an inmate completes his/her sentence, the victim/witness will be notified of the release date, the city and state of destination, and if applicable, the supervising U.S. Probation office. In addition, victims will be notified when an inmate is considered for compassionate release.

Escape
If an inmate escapes, the victim/witness will be notified by phone of the date and time of the escape as soon as possible.

Furlough
If an inmate is approved for an unescorted trip to the community, the victim/witness will be notified of the starting and ending dates of the furlough, as well as the specific location. Only inmates who meet specific security standards are considered for furloughs, and these typically occur during the inmate's final year of confinement.

Transfer to a residential reentry center (RRC)
Once it is confirmed that an inmate has been approved for transfer to an RRC, the victim/witness will be notified of the name and location of the facility, the transfer date, and the inmate's tentative release date from the RRC. Transfers to RRCs usually happen 3 to 6 months before an inmate's final release date to the community. The RRC is generally located near the inmate's projected area of release.

Parole Hearings
If an inmate is eligible for parole and is receiving a parole hearing, the victim/witness is notified. The victim/witness may appear in person or submit a written statement to the U.S. Parole Commission.

Death
If an inmate dies while confined, the victim/witness will be notified of the date of death.

Facility Transfer
From time to time, inmates are transferred between Bureau facilities for various reasons. The Bureau does not routinely notify victims when an inmate is being transferred from one facility to another. While in Bureau custody, no matter the location, the risk to the public is minimal. Victims will be notified when inmates are unsupervised in the community (furloughs) or when no longer in Bureau custody (release). If at any time you wish to know the location of an inmate, you may use the Inmate Locator tool on this website, call the VNS Call Center at 1-866-365-4986, or visit the Victim Internet System website.

Residential Reentry Center (RRC) Placement
Victims/witnesses will receive notification if an inmate is placed in an RRC (also known as a halfway house). Learn more about RRCs

Methods of Notification

The notifications, which are made available in English or Spanish, are mailed in a letter through the U.S. Postal Service. In addition to notification letters, VNS provides a toll-free Call Center and a VNS Internet site to crime victims. Individual victims will be provided a Victim Identification Number (VIN) and a Personal Identification Number (PIN). These numbers are necessary to access information available via the VNS Call Center or the VNS Internet site. Through these options, victims can access information, receive notifications, change contact information, and/or elect to stop receiving notifications.

The VNS Call Center can be reached at 1-866-365-4968 and Notify USDOJ can be used to access the Victim Internet Site. Most questions regarding the VNS are addressed in the brochure provided to victims in their initial notification letter. Additional questions regarding the VNS or the Bureau's notification procedures can be addressed to our Victim-Witness Coordinators at 202-307-0884 or 202-307-2878.

Entering the Program

Federal crime victims are usually entered into the program automatically during the investigative stage of the criminal justice process. Those victims who are not initially entered into the program may contact the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) in the district where the inmate was prosecuted to be included in the program.

Leaving the Program

Victims no longer wishing to receive notifications may remove themselves from the program by calling the VNS Call Center at 1-866-365-4986; by using the Victim Internet System, by writing or calling the Bureau, or by calling the USAO Victim-Witness Coordinator.

Program Safety

The notification program itself does not ensure the safety of victims or witnesses. However, anyone who is contacted by an inmate inappropriately should contact the institution where the inmate is incarcerated. Threats should be immediately reported to local law enforcement.

Victim/Witness Notification Program Statement

Victim Compensation

The Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) ensures that sentenced inmates develop a financial plan for
meeting court-ordered and other legitimate financial obligations, including, in many cases, payments to victims.

Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) Overview

The Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982, the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1987, and the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act of 1990 required a diligent effort on the part of all law enforcement agencies to collect court-ordered financial obligations. In 1985, the Bureau introduced the IFRP; and in 1987, it was implemented nationwide. The Bureau strongly supports this program not only because it benefits victims of crime, but also because it promotes financial responsibility on the part of inmates. As a result, the IFRP exists in all Bureau facilities.

Program Compliance

Each inmate with a financial obligation, regardless of the extent of his or her resources, is encouraged to develop a financial payment plan. Through an automated information system, staff review an offender's financial obligations and monitor compliance. Ordinarily, failure to satisfy the payment plan affects an inmate's consideration for parole, housing assignments, work assignments, performance pay, release gratuities, and community programs. Institution-level enforcement, regional office monitoring, and program reviews ensure policy compliance and the IFRP's success.

Inmate Payments

Payments are made electronically through an inmate's trust fund account and include earnings from prison work assignments. With the exception of direct restitution payments to victims, most funds collected by the IFRP are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund and are subsequently distributed to the states for victim assistance and compensation programs. The IFRP is thus another mechanism for holding inmates accountable to society.

Determining Payment Status

The Bureau attempts to collect all legitimate financial obligations ordered by the Court and owed to crime victims. Funds collected by the Bureau are sent to the Clerk of the Court in the sentencing district. The Clerk of the Court is then responsible for distributing any funds owed to crime victims. To determine the status of monies owed, victims must contact the Clerk of the Court in the sentencing district.

Collection Amounts

Since implementation, millions of dollars have been collected to promote and assist victim assistance programs. Over the years, participation rate and collections have increased. These are some of the most recent collection amounts over the following fiscal years (FY):

FY 1996 $3,755,134.71
FY 1997 $4,899,247.32
FY 1998 $5,843,000.00
FY 1999 $7,303,866.00
FY 2000 $7,312,864.00
FY 2002 $8,055,369.81
FY 2003 $8,659,659.00
FY 2004 $9,549,389.00
FY 2005 $9,808,417.60
FY 2006 $10,020,375.17
FY 2007 $10,091,974.08
FY 2008 $9,823,444.63
FY 2009 $9,200,031.91
FY 2010 $8,657,558.92
FY 2011 $8,263,246.61
FY 2012 $8,594,822.76

Inmate Financial Responsibility Program Statement

Victim Complaints

A complaint may be filed against any Department of Justice (DOJ) employee who violates or fails to provide a crime victim their specified rights. Accordingly, DOJ has established procedures to investigate complaints against DOJ employees.

The BOP is committed to respecting and protecting the rights of crime victims and works with the Victims' Rights Ombudsman to resolve complaints from crime victims. If you are a crime victim and you believe a BOP employee has violated or refused to provide the rights established in Title 18 USC 3771, please complete the following steps:

1. Download, print, and complete the following form within 60 days of the violation:
2. Mail the form to the following address:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Office of Internal Affairs
320 First St., NW, Room 600
Washington, DC 20534
3. Wait to receive notification.
The Victims' Rights Ombudsman will conduct a thorough investigation into the complaint and will notify you as to whether or not a violation was sustained.