Policy Implications of Prevalence and Correlates of Support for Victim's Rights

Jason T. Bratton, Florida State University
Kelly Welch, Florida State University
Marc Gertz, Florida State University

Research Summary: The United States has dramatically expanded provisions for crime victims in the last several decades, with more attention being paid to the needs of victims by the criminal justice system and society. A variety of victims' rights measures have been legislated, including the 1990 Victims' Bill of Rights, with what has been perceived as uncontested support from the public. There has been little previous research, however, that explores this notion or assesses the nature of the apparent universality of support for victims' rights. This study is the first attempt to uncover the predictors of support for these public policies. Using telephone survey data (N=1,693) from a Florida county, we find that although public support for general victim rights measures is quite high, further investigation reveals that certain sub-populations are more likely to endorse these types of policies than others.

Policy Implications: Assuming that public policies are enacted on the basis of their ability to meet the needs of society, the knowledge that certain sub-populations are more supportive of victims' rights legislation may lead policymakers to seek further information about the desires of the constituents they serve in order to develop better policy. Now that we know public support for these policies is slightly more intricate than perhaps previously imagined, future research may attempt to further delineate the dynamics affecting the public's feelings about granting victims' rights so that policy can better meet the needs of the public, offenders, and victims.

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Updated 05/20/2006