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Impact of Constitutional and Statutory Protection on Crime Victims' Rights in Four States in the United States, 1995 (ICPSR 2467)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This survey of crime victims was undertaken to determine whether state constitutional amendments and other legal measures designed to protect crime victims' rights had been effective. It was designed to test the hypothesis that the strength of legal protection for victims' rights has a measurable impact on how victims are treated by the criminal justice system and on their perceptions of the system. A related hypothesis was that victims from states with strong legal protection would have more favorable experiences and greater satisfaction with the system than those from states where legal protection is weak. The Victim Survey (Parts 1, 4-7) collected information on when and where the crime occurred, characteristics of the perpetrators, use of force, police response, victim services, type of information given to the victim by the criminal justice system, the victim's level of participation in the criminal justice system, how the case ended, sentencing and restitution, the victim's satisfaction with the criminal justice system, and the effects of the crime on the victim. Demographic variables in the file include age, race, sex, education, employment, and income. In addition to the victim survey, criminal justice and victim assistance professionals at the state and local levels were surveyed because these professionals affect crime victims' ability to recover from and cope with the aftermath of the offense and the stress of participation in the criminal justice system. The Survey of State Officials (Parts 2 and 8) collected data on officials' opinions of the criminal justice system, level of funding for the agency, types of victims' rights provided by the state, how victims' rights provisions had changed the criminal justice system, advantages and disadvantages of such legislation, and recommendations for future legislation. The Survey of Local Officials (Parts 3 and 9) collected data on officials' opinions of the criminal justice system, level of funding, victims' rights to information about and participation in the criminal justice process, victim impact statements, and restitution.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Victim Survey - Download All Files (9.5 MB)
DS2:  Survey of State Officials - Download All Files (1 MB)
DS3:  Survey of Local Officials - Download All Files (2.7 MB)
DS4:  Verbatim Responses to Victim Survey in Strong State 1 - Download All Files (1.4 MB)
Data:
DS5:  Verbatim Responses to Victim Survey in Strong State 2 - Download All Files (1 MB)
Data:
DS6:  Verbatim Responses to Victim Survey in Weak State 1 - Download All Files (1.3 MB)
Data:
DS7:  Verbatim Responses to Victim Survey in Weak State 2 - Download All Files (1.2 MB)
Data:
DS8:  Verbatim Responses to Survey of State Officials - Download All Files (1 MB)
Data:
DS9:  Verbatim Responses to Survey of Local Officials - Download All Files (0.9 MB)
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Beatty, David, Susan Smith Howley, and Dean G. Kilpatrick. IMPACT OF CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY PROTECTION ON CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS IN FOUR STATES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1995. ICPSR version. Arlington, VA: National Center for Victims of Crime [producer], 1996. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02467.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (93-IJ-CX-K003)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   constitutional amendments, criminal justice system, process evaluation, victim rights, victim safety, victim services, victims

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1995

Date of Collection:  

  • 1995-04--1995-10

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Crime victims, criminal justice officials, and victim assistance professionals in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) ICPSR was unable to verify the meaning of all of the variables and values in the data files prior to releasing this study. ICPSR will continue to work with the principal investigators to clarify all undocumented information in the files, and the collection will be updated when all unanswered questions have been resolved. (2) ICPSR has blanked all geographic identifiers, including state names, in all files in order to protect respondent confidentiality. Names and profanity were deleted as well. (3) Parts 4-9 are ASCII text files that consist of verbatim responses to open-ended survey questions. (4) The user guide, codebook, and data collection instruments are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   In 1990, the federal government adopted the Victim's Rights and Protection Act to protect victims' rights in federal crimes. By 1998, all 50 states had passed some form of a statutory crime victims' bill of rights, and 29 states had amended their constitutions to include rights for crime victims. Despite this widespread adoption of legal protection for the constitutional rights and civil liberties of victims, the implementation of such protection and its impact on victims had not been widely studied, nor had much research been directed at how this legislation influenced victim perceptions of the criminal justice system. To address these issues, the largest survey of crime victims to date was conducted to determine whether state constitutional amendments and other legal measures designed to protect crime victims' rights had been effective. This study sought to answer the following questions: (1) Do victims' rights statutes work? (2) Do these statutes foster fairness and respect for the rights and interests of crime victims? This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the strength of legal protection for victims' rights has a measurable impact on how victims are treated by the criminal justice system and on their perceptions of the system. A related hypothesis was that victims from states with strong legal protection would have more favorable experiences and greater satisfaction with the system than those from states where legal protection is weak. In addition to the victim survey, criminal justice and victim assistance professionals at the state and local levels were surveyed because these professionals affect crime victims' ability to recover from and cope with the aftermath of the offense and the stress of participation in the criminal justice system. It was hypothesized that criminal justice and victim services professionals would have greater awareness of victims' rights issues in states with stronger protections. This survey was also used to explore the reasons why victims' rights laws might or might not produce satisfaction among victims.

Study Design:   The first step in the study was identifying two states that were weak in protecting victims' rights and two that were strong. From the four selected states, adult crime victims' names and locational information were obtained from departments of corrections and victims' compensation agencies. All crime victims selected had reported crimes to the police, most had substantial exposure to the criminal justice system through the progress of their case, and most had fairly recent experiences with the criminal justice system. Targeted for inclusion were victims of physical assault, robbery, and sexual assault, as well as surviving family members of homicide victims. Researchers attempted interviews with all such crime victims who acknowledged their victimization. Phone interviews were conducted with 1,308 of these crime victims. In addition to the victim survey, state and local criminal justice officials and victims' advocates were surveyed in these same four states to determine the extent to which they were aware of the legal rights of victims, their views of how victims' rights are ensured, and their thoughts about what further steps may be necessary to strengthen the protection of victims' rights. State officials included agency directors, legislators, victim coalition directors, and other government officials. Local officials included judges, prosecutors, parole and probation officers, victim assistance coordinators, victim-witness staff, defense attorneys, and police and sheriffs. About half of the local officials surveyed were judges.

Sample:   Two weak and two strong states were selected from a ranking of the strength of states with respect to protecting crime victims' rights. The selected states provided researchers with lists of adult crime victims, who were then contacted for the victim survey. State and local criminal justice officials were selected from a list compiled by the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Data Source:

CATI phone interviews

Description of Variables:   The Victim Survey (Parts 1, 4-7) collected information on when and where the crime occurred, characteristics of the perpetrators, use of force, police response, victim services, type of information given to the victim by the criminal justice system, the victim's level of participation in the criminal justice system, how the case ended, sentencing and restitution, the victim's satisfaction with the criminal justice system, and the effects of the crime on the victim. Demographic variables in the file include age, race, sex, education, employment, and income. The Survey of State Officials (Parts 2 and 8) collected data on officials' opinions of the criminal justice system, level of funding for the agency, types of victims' rights provided by the state, how victims' rights provisions had changed the criminal justice system, advantages and disadvantages of such legislation, and recommendations for future legislation. The Survey of Local Officials (Parts 3 and 9) collected data on officials' opinions of the criminal justice system, level of funding, victims' rights to information about and participation in the criminal justice process, victim impact statements, and restitution.

Response Rates:   For the Victim Survey interviews were completed with 83 percent of victims who could be located and who disclosed their victimization. The response rate for the Survey of Local Officials was 70 percent and the response rate for the Survey of State Officials was 80.3 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File CB2467.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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