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1: Introduction

Overview of the Guide

This guide builds on work that started in 2010 when the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) sponsored a public hearing with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. At that hearing, crime victims and survivors, and those who serve and advocate for them spoke about the value of:

  • Seeking input from crime victims and survivors, and the power of their personal stories;
  • Enforcing victims’ rights across community and institutional corrections spectrums; and
  • Collaborating and partnering to identify and meet victims’ needs across systems and within community-based programs.[1]

The hearings resulted in 10 key recommendations about improving services to crime victims and survivors. You can find them here. The guide highlights the importance of Probation and Parole Officers (PPOs) collaborating with community agencies and including victim voices and perspectives in all aspects of supervision.

This Guide is developed to inform the work of PPOs with regard to victims and victim advocates. While much has been written on the topic of victims and victim advocates, there has been a gap in resources specifically tailored to the role of community corrections professionals, who must balance difficult decisions and divergent needs of multiple clients every day. This guide is intended to support PPOs in balancing and responding to these various needs.

Who Should Use this Guide?

The audience for this guide is community corrections professionals including pretrial caseworkers, probation and parole officers, probation officer assistants, and community corrections officers.

When the guide refers to community corrections agencies, this term encompasses corrections departments and non-profit or community organizations with supervisory functions for people on pre-trial release, probation, or parole. These entities can be county-based, town-based, state-wide, city, tribal, or regional. Take the time to learn about the entities that exist in your area.

The focus of this guide is on adults who are involved in the community corrections system either as victims of crime or as perpetrators of crime. For more information about juvenile crime victims, please see the resources available at the U. S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

A Note on Language

The guide uses the term “PPO,” to include people who work in the field of community corrections from pretrial to supervision in the community to incarceration to reentry. We recognize that for many jurisdictions, probation and parole officers will have different authority and responsibilities when working with victims. As always, refer to your local rules, regulations, and laws for more information.

To differentiate between a person under supervision and the person who has been harmed by him/her, the literature often uses the terms “offender” and “victim.” However, these terms can be stigmatizing. In this guide, we avoid using terms like felon, offender, and inmate as much as possible.

Some individuals who have been harmed by crimes reject the term “victim” and instead prefer to be called “survivor.” When working with victims, follow their lead regarding how they describe themselves.

Further, language of victims and offenders can contribute to false dichotomies that people fall into either/or categories. Many people under supervision, especially justice-involved women, [2] have also been victimized within their families, communities, or within the criminal justice system. This makes our work multi-layered and complex.

Using the Online Guide


The Guide can be printed as a Handbook to guide practice or bookmarked as an online resource to guide your work with victims.

This Guide provides a comprehensive overview of available information on victims’ rights and services. It is informed by the foundational work of many advocates, academics and community corrections professionals. While the Guide will outline specific tools and resources to inform your work, it is worth noting that there is no “one size fits all” approach that will work across all scenarios. There may be information in the Guide that will require you to self-reflect on your practice as it relates to the needs of victims, however, you are the best judge on how and when to use this resource.

The Guide is intended to:

  • Develop your knowledge and expertise in working with victims, advocates and related service providers within the boundaries of your role as a PPO.
  • Inform professional development and staff training.
  • Build capacity of PPO supervisors to coach and guide decision making related to victims’ rights and needs.
  • Support presentations to other criminal justice system professionals about the intersection of PPO roles and victims’ rights and needs.

Structure of Guide

The guide is divided into the following sections:

  1. Section I. Introduction [You are here now]

    This section includes an overview of the guide’s purpose, its intended audience, its use of language, and a thumbnail of each section of the guide.

  2. Section 2. Community Corrections and Crime Victims

    This section discusses why working with victims is important for community corrections and how information obtained from victims can help you with your supervision efforts. It describes the unique role that PPOs have in working with victims and includes five common myths about working with victims of crime.

  3. Section 3. Victims’ Rights

    This section reviews rights guaranteed to victims by law, as well as information they are legally entitled to receive. It reviews what you need to know about each right, what a victim might need, and what you can do as a PPO to enforce these rights. It also highlights resources and promising practices from across the country to help inform your practice.

  4. Section 4. Working with Victims of Crime

    This section explores the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual impact of crime on victims and how you can incorporate a victim-centered approach to your work. It provides helpful hints and things you can do and say to help victims through the community corrections process. It also includes a section on how technology impacts your work with victims. This section also contains information on various types of crimes and ways you can help victims by providing information and partnering with resources that will enhance victim and community safety. It provides specific resources for survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, homicide, hate crimes, sex-trafficking, gang violence, and financial crimes.

  5. Section 5. Building Partnerships

    This section discusses the importance of building partnerships with local victim services organizations. It explains the programs that may exist in your community and provides examples of how you might partner with them to promote safety and protection for crime victims. This section also contains information about approaches to restorative justice that may be available in your area.

  6. Section 6. Tools and Materials

    This section includes a tools and resources section that you can download/print off to remind you of key resources, tips and tools that can support your work. There are also links to helpful resources such as a Victim Law Database and other useful web sites plus some recommended reading if you want to go into more depth on any issue of victims’ involvement in community corrections, in addition to a coaching tool for supervisors, and a printable Myths and Truths page to share in your office.

[1] Seymour, Anne. 2010. “Public Hearing on Victim Issues in Probation and Parole, Recommendation Report.”American Probation and Parole Association., accessed July 1, 2016.

[2] Ney, Becky, Ramirez, Rachelle, and Dr. Marilyn Van Dieten. (2012). Ten Truths that Matter When Working with Justice Involved Women [PowerPoint slides]. National Resource Center for Justice Involved Women. , accessed July 1, 2016.