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The Boise Police Department Victim-Witness Program was developed in 1990 in response to a need for crisis intervention and support services for victims, witnesses and survivors of violent crime. The department was previously dependent on outside agencies for assistance to crime victims. A law enforcement based unit allowed services to be provided to violent crime victims involved in cases where the suspect was neither identified nor apprehended, or the offender was a juvenile and not waived to adult court or insufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt meant no charges would be filed, as well victims of felony level violent crimes referred for prosecution.
The coordinators in this unit rotate being on-call, responding to crime scenes, the hospitals or other locations when requested, providing crisis intervention and stabilization on a 24-hours per day, 7 days per week basis. They work directly with patrol officers and the detectives to assist with victims, so crimes can be more easily investigated.
Additional objectives of this unit are:
- To increase the commitment of state and local government to assist crime victims.
- To increase the range and availability of services for crime victims.
- To expand the victim's opportunity to participate in critical stages of the criminal justice process and ensure consideration of the impact of the crime upon the victim in all major criminal justice decisions.
- To increase coordination and networking of appropriate agencies, organizations and groups providing services to crime victims in order to develop an integrated community system of victim assistance.
- To achieve these objectives the unit provides crisis counseling, support during the investigative and court processes as well as general information on the criminal justice system. In addition, resource and referral, follow-up counseling, transportation and assistance with restitution are provided as needed.
In 1994, Victims Rights Advocates were successful in a grass roots effort to initiate the passage of a Constitutional Amendment legislating Crime Victims' Rights. This law provides that crime victims shall be:
Treated Fairly --Treated with fairness, respect, dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process.
Involved in Court --Allowed to attend all court proceedings in the case.
Considered Concerning Timeliness --Entitled to a timely disposition of the case.
Notified --given prior notice of trial, appellate and parole proceedings and provided upon request, information about the sentence, incarceration or release of the defendant.
Heard --Heard, upon request, by a court that is considering a plea of guilty, at sentencing, incarceration or release of the defendant.
Involved in Plea Agreements --Afforded the opportunity to communicate with the prosecution in criminal or juvenile offenses, and be advised of any proposed plea agreement before it has been made.
Not Harassed --Allowed to refuse an interview, contact or other request by the defendant or any other person acting on his/her behalf-unless such contact is mandated by the court.
Involved in Sentencing --Consulted by the pre-sentence investigator during the preparation of the pre-sentence report and have included in this pre-sentence report a victim impact statement. Allowed to read pre-sentence report relating to the crime.
Property Returned --Assured the speedy return by law enforcement agencies of any stolen or other personal property when no longer needed as evidence.
Notified of Defendant Release --Notified whenever the defendant or suspect is released or escapes custody