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6: Tools and Materials

This section provides tools and resources that you can download/print to remind you and your colleagues of key resources, tips, and tools to support your work.

In addition to using the resources here, we encourage you to develop your own. Some of those tools might include:

  • Brochures or information to provide to victims prior to intake, addressing victim notification, rights and opportunities for input during an individual’s incarceration, release planning, family reunification and upon release/supervision.
  • Victim notification forms or web based processes.
  • Reentry forms & information.


There are over 10,000 local, state, and national organizations that provide services and support to victims of crime. Below is a list of resources by topic area.

National Resources for Victims of Crime

Local Victim Services Resources

Victims’ Rights Resources

Corrections and Reentry Resources

Safety Planning

At the national level, two organizations provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals. These services are accessible around the clock, every day of the year.

For additional safety planning resources:

Victim Notification


National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards:

Recommended Reading

Ensuring Victims’ Rights as a Probation and Parole Officer: 
What Can You Do?

The Right to Notification and Information:

  • Research your state laws regarding victim notification.
  • Review your agency policies and advocate that your agency policies provide ample opportunities for victims to be given information about requesting notification.
  • Explain the criminal justice proceedings to the victim, if they have questions.
  • If it exists in your jurisdiction, invite them to “opt in” for notification services. Don’t assume they are choosing to opt out. Offer the resource.
  • Coordinate with the victims’ services program within your corrections agency if one exists.
  • Check with the victim services agency in your area to get brochures for your office.
  • Identify any websites that provide information on notification rights and services.

The Right to Reasonable Protection and Safety:

  • Research the law and policies in your jurisdiction regarding safety and reasonable protection.
  • Review case files for victim information.
  • Read the Victim Impact Statement, if it exists.
  • Give information to the victim that could enhance their safety such as the location of the person under supervision, travel restrictions, no contact orders, special conditions, and violations.
  • Actively listen to the concerns of a victim who contacts you.
  • Ask open ended questions regarding safety concerns (i.e. Do you have any safety concerns for yourself? What about for your children or other family members? Have you ever been threatened?)
  • Be prepared to follow-up on this conversation with information about safety planning and referrals to community- or system-based advocates who can offer safety planning assistance.
  • Know your resources. Most victim advocacy programs have advocates trained in safety planning.

The Right to Confidentiality and Privacy:

  • Understand the rights in your jurisdiction related to victim privacy.
  • Understand the policies and practices in place within your agency about communicating with victims and protecting their confidentiality.
  • Review the victim impact statement and other information that may be forwarded to you.
  • Discuss the confidentiality policies and procedures with your supervisor, colleagues, and advocates so that you know you are all on the same page and advocate for training on these polices. When in doubt, err on the side of victim confidentiality to mitigate risk and increase safety. Sample policies can be found here.
  • When working with a victim, discuss their privacy concerns and the protections that your agency has put in place to protect their privacy.
  • Ask victims for a release of information to talk with an advocate that they have been working with or to access some information from their file. If a victim authorizes the release of information, the release should: be written, time-limited, specify the purpose for disclosure, and identify the person to receive the information.
  • Take special precautions to protect victim information from being seen. Separate any documentation containing communications with the victim in a different location than your supervision documentation. Only allow designated staff to access victim information/case files. If computerized, use password protections.
  • Consider how victim-related restrictions placed on the person under supervision might impact victim confidentiality. For example, if you if you restrict someone from going to a particular street or store, this may be letting them know where the victim is living or working. When possible, broaden the restricted area enough so that confidentiality is supported.

The Right to Attend and Be Present:

  • Ask them if they are aware of the notification programs in your jurisdiction and if they have registered to be notified.
  • Provide them with the information on how to sign up for notification if they chose.
  • Connect them with a victim advocate who could offer support before, during, or after the hearing, including courtroom or hearing orientation that helps victims understand what to expect. If you work in a system that has victim advocates as part of corrections, you should make a connection to that program.
  • If you do not have internal victims’ advocates, there may be programs in your community that can offer support. Make connections (see section 5: Building Partnerships) so that you are able to refer victims to support and services.

The Right to Be Heard/Provide Input:

  • Research your state laws regarding victim input and participation.
  • Review your agency policies and resources on obtaining victim input.
  • Read the Victim Impact Statement/s and/or interview victims to inform conditions of release/supervision and to better understand victim safety concerns.
  • If contacting a victim about an impact statement, provide detailed information that clearly explains the purpose of the victim impact statement and who will have access to the information. Include contact information for systems or community-based advocates that could provide support and assistance in preparing the statement.

The Right to Compensation:

  • Contact your state’s victim compensation program and/or website to become familiar with the requirements and application process so that you can refer victims of violent crimes.
  • Obtain brochures or informational materials on victim compensation to keep in your office.
  • Ask victims of violent crimes if they are aware of the victim compensation program; don’t assume they already know about it.

The Right to Restitution:

  • Research your state laws regarding restitution.
  • Consult agency policy on restitution management.
  • When conducting a PSI, ensure that losses incurred by the victim are included and addressed.
  • Review the case file for documentation of restitution and other legal financial obligations such as child support.
  • Help with collection by setting up services such as budgeting and employment assistance. Help individuals create a realistic payment plan.
  • Invoice the individual under supervision for payment, garnish wages, summons to court, and check in on the plan at each visit, if applicable.
  • Prioritize restitution over court fees and fines if allowed by law and supported by the court.

Federal Victims’ Rights Resource

Nationally, the Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771, enacted in 2004, includes eight specific rights that pertain to federal crimes specifically.

  Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act

The main provisions are the Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act are:

  • Right to be reasonably protected from intimidation and harm;
  • Right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding or any parole proceeding involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused;
  • Right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding;
  • Right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole hearing;
  • Reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the government in the case;
  • Right to full and timely restitution as provided in the law;
  • Right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay;
  • Right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.

For Federal crimes, the U.S. Department of Justice Victim Notification System (VNS) provides victims with automated notification about events pertaining to their case. More information and access to this program can be found at VNS also hosts an internet/automated call center available 24 hours a day that can be reached at: 1-866-DOJ-4YOU / (1-866-365-4968).


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Victim Notification:

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA): Public Law 108-79, 108th Congress. The Act supports the elimination, reduction, and prevention of sexual assault and rape within corrections systems; mandates national data collection efforts; provides funding for program development and research; creates a national commission to develop standards and accountability measures; applies to all federal, state and local prisons, jails, police lock-ups, private facilities, and community settings such as residential facilities.

The consequences of prison rape and abusive sexual activity include the following:

  • Victimization of vulnerable individuals such as mentally ill and youthful individuals who were incarcerated.
  • Spread of disease such as HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis.
  • Increased risk that the victims of prison rape will commit crimes when they are released.
  • Exacerbated racial tension because of interracial sexual assaults.
  • Severe psychological and physical effects on the victim.
  • Increased risk of homicide and other violence against people who are incarcerated and staff.
  • Increased risk of insurrection and riot.
  • Reduction of individuals’ ability to successfully transition to the community and a law-abiding lifestyle when released.
  • Fear of re-victimization upon return to incarceration, which may represent an officer safety issue during an arrest.

In PREA-compliant departments, all staff members are responsible for the detection, prevention, and reporting of prison rape and sexual activity.

Whether your agency is part of a department of corrections, a jail, or a court system, you may still have a responsibility to report disclosures by individuals you supervise. Some individuals do report sexual victimization while they are incarcerated; if this is the case they may have received support, services, and counseling. However, sometimes people will not report until they are released from a facility. You may be the first person to whom he or she has disclosed.

Reporting or self-disclosure may occur during an office visit, a home visit, a program, therapy session, or an interview (including presentence investigation interviews). While this information should be held as confidential as possible, internal reporting procedures should be used to document and share this information with appropriate staff. It is not recommended that you actively question the reporting individual other than to gather basic information regarding where and when the event occurred and whether it was initially reported to authorities.

Regardless of when the individual reports, if you learn that someone was a victim of a custodial rape or has knowledge of this type of incident occurring, you should immediately contact the appropriate PREA Program Coordinator or designee for that particular facility or agency and refer them to services. If the rape or assault was reported as a crime while the individual was incarcerated, there may be financial assistance available through the crime victim's compensation fund.

The sharing of information regarding a sexual assault and sexual activity should be limited to those who need to know for decision-making, investigation, and prosecution.

For more information on PREA click here.

A Coaching Tool for Probation and Parole Officer Supervisors and Field Training Officers

As supervisors and Field Training Officers (FTOs), you have an essential role in reinforcing promising practices and upholding victims’ rights with the staff that you supervise, whether directly or indirectly. The following list includes some ideas and tips to support you in ensuring that the needs and rights of victims stay on the forefront of professional community corrections practice.

Coaching in Groups

  • Invite community- or systems-based victim advocates to a staff meeting to present and speak with staff about common victim needs in your community
  • Invite PPOs to share one way that they have interfaced with a victim or a victim advocate in their caseload at each staff meeting
  • Make space on a staff meeting agenda to facilitate challenging conversations about how to balance the goals of rehabilitation and accountability
  • Send group emails with resources or highlighting promising practices
  • Plan for a PPO to do a case presentation at staff meeting for discussion
  • Partner with community agencies to provide and receive training (cross systems/role)
  • Share information about webinars and online training opportunities that staff can attend
  • Facilitate a Victim Impact Panel for staff

Coaching Individuals

  • Make time with staff for individual supervision that focuses on attending to the needs of victims
  • Recognize individual staff efforts through an email or letter of commendation in their personnel file when they have demonstrated promising practices with victims
  • Encourage them to prioritize restitution collection above other fines and fees
  • Ask them about how they have worked with victims and victim advocates on the case
  • Review confidentiality practices and reinforce staff precautions around protecting information
  • Encourage staff to reach out to victim advocates and community resources on complex cases with victim involvement, especially in instances of safety planning

Five Common Myths and Truths About Working with Victims

There are several common myths or misconceptions that may impact your work with victims. Before we go further, let’s address some of these commonly cited areas.

MYTH: By the time I get involved as a PPO, it is too late to have an effect on the short and long term impacts of crime on the victim?

TRUTH: The impacts of crime are pervasive and can have long lasting effects. A victim may be re-traumatized throughout the pre-trial, trial, sentencing, incarceration, and reentry phases. It is never too late to do something helpful to mitigate the effects of victimization or prevent re-traumatization. You can minimize adverse impacts of crime by providing a victim-centered approach to supervision. Many victims have never heard a professional say what happened to them is wrong. You can acknowledge the harm that has been done to them and explain your responsibility for holding their perpetrator accountable. These critical conversations between PPOs and victims can go a long way in the healing process and provide meaningful interactions for both parties. Oftentimes it is not until they start to communicate with a PPO that a victim can finally get answers from someone dealing directly with the person that victimized them.

MYTH: Confidentiality prohibits PPOs from communicating with victims.

TRUTH: Confidentiality is often a perceived barrier to collaborating with victims. However, this is a barrier that you can overcome by deepening your understanding of the law and of victims’ needs. Victims have a right to information, and part of your job is to provide it to them. Anything that is public information can be shared with a victim, so it is critical that as a PPO, you know what is public information in your jurisdiction. While laws vary, generally victims can have access to information pertaining to location, supervision level and conditions, notice of revocations/violations, and scheduled court proceedings. Specific details of case plan or reentry plan and compliance can get more challenging. Victim questions should always be fielded and the reason they are asking for specific information clearly identified; however, information shared about a case plan may be protected under confidentiality. Know your jurisdiction’s laws and policies on dissemination of information. For instance, some information may be given verbally but not in writing; some information may be provided to criminal justice partners but not to the general public. Take time to acquaint yourself with your laws and policies so that you are better prepared to respond accurately to questions from victims and others. Ask victims about their underlying needs and help them to connect to supportive services to address their needs, if you cannot address them as a PPO.

MYTH: There is a universally accepted list of victims’ rights across the country.

TRUTH: Each state and jurisdiction has their own set of laws pertaining to victims’ rights. Some states have constitutional amendments, others have a bill of rights and still others may have individual laws pertaining to the rights of victims. The online resource, VictimLaw, provides a database of all victims’ rights laws in all jurisdictions.

Note: This guide will focus on 7 core victims’ rights that are common across various sources.

MYTH: If my state doesn’t have a victim’s crime bill or a victim does not meet the criteria for being defined as a victim by statute, I am not obligated to work with victims.

TRUTH: Some jurisdictions may not have as many rights in statute as others. Also, who is defined as a victim under statute varies across jurisdictions. While some laws may be jurisdictionally specific, in places where the law is unclear or does not exist, as a PPO you should access theVictimLaw database and refer to national promising practices. Appropriately responding to the needs of any victim who may contact you (regardless of whether they meet a statutory definition of a victim) is essential and can support positive outcomes for the victim and your supervision efforts.

MYTH: PPOs have the authority and responsibility to ensure that all victims’ rights are enforced.

TRUTH: PPOs have a great deal of influence within the community corrections continuum; however the responsibility to ensure enforcement of all rights extends beyond your authority. While we encourage you to always consider and advocate for victims’ rights, laws and courts often also have an impact on enforcement. For example, the right to a speedy trial is generally outside of your work as a PPO. This guide centers on the rights that are specific to the PPO role.

  Ensuring Victims Rights

  NIC Presentation