Has the Victims' Movement reached its full potential? Name 3 specific goals that the movement should strive for in the next 10 years and explain your reasoning.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Proponents of the Victims' Rights movement would suggest that the cause still requires continued advocacy and action. There has been advancement since the 1970s.  For example, "33 states have amended their constitution to address crime victims’ rights , and the remaining states have passed crime victims’ rights legislation."  This is a significant movement from the Court's belief that “a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or nonprosecution of another."  Additionally, the Victims' Rights movement has helped to formulate significant pieces of legislation that have become socially and legally grounded in our reality.  The Victims of Crime Act as well as Violence Against Women Act were examples of how the Victims' Rights movement have helped to draft legislation that is part of the legal lexicon. Proponents of the movement would argue that the assurance that victims are not tangential aspects of the legal system is a way of preventing them from being victimized twice.  In the sad world of criminal activity, the movement continues to advocate that there is a role for the victims' voice in the legal system.

Proponents of the Victims' Rights movement would point to specific goals towards which advancement is critical.  One would be to make sure that the "pendulum does not swing the other way."  The Victims Rights movement emerged from the development of more voices in American society.  From movements such as Feminism and Civil Rights came "a call for equal justice for all victims of crime."  As with all voices that demand equality, there will be voices that will pose resistance to such change.  One goal of the movement in the next ten years would be to make sure that progress is not stunted for the belief that victims' rights work is "done."  Certainly, another goal would be legislative in terms of ensuring that all 50 states have specific amendments in their Constitution to ensure the presence of Victims' Rights.  The United Nations has suggested that while advancement has been made, more could be offered:  "...while U.S. Jurisdictions, both federal and state, have made significant progress in recent decades, much more can be done to ensure that victims' rights and legitimate interests are upheld." In being able to carry out the theme of "more can be done," the movement must continue its trajectory.

Proponents of the Victims Rights movement might suggest that for true and universal validation, an internationalized focus must be embraced.  There are areas of the world in which Victims Rights are not recognized.  For examples, there are parts of the world where violence against women in the form of sexual assaults are not readily prosecuted.  In these parts of the world, women have to struggle mightily in order to have a claim of rape processed and do not have access to forensic elements such as rape kits and preservation of evidence that proves sexual assault. In these parts of the world, witness intimidation is common.  Removing these barriers and validating their voice in the legal process to bring perpetrators to justice has to be a goal of the Victims' Rights movement.  In a globalized world, social and legal notions of the good have to extend to people all over the world.  Proponents of the movement would suggest that victims' rights do not end at a nation's borders. The internationalization of victims' rights can be seen as a focus of the movement in the next decade.

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