Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Ohio Crime Victims' Rights Online Toolkit

BJA Program(s): Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
State(s): OH

Jurisdiction(s): Ohio

Grantee Agency: Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services
Subgrantee Agency: Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center

Grant Amount/Year(s): FY 2014/50,000

About the Program:

In October 2016, the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center (OCVJC) launched the Online Crime Victims’ Rights Toolkit, the first state-run online resource to help victims understand their rights.

Charleston Police
Ohio Crime Victims' Rights Online Toolkit

The toolkit pulls together the hundreds of rights, administrative codes, policies, and best practices that are in place to support victims. It also provides an abbreviated description of each right in layman’s terms and organizes them under the appropriate stage of the criminal justice process, thus making it easier for crime victims to understand what they should expect as they seek justice.

When using the toolkit, individuals can enter details of their case, including the victim’s age, whether it’s an adult or juvenile offender, the jurisdiction (state or federal), type of crime, and victim disability (if applicable). The toolkit will then return rights, administrative code, protocols, and best practices specific to the type of crime and disability.  

The toolkit can be used for research or users can experiment with the “Build a Case” function, which allows them to run through scenarios that may come up during the criminal justice process and inform them of what rights will be afforded to victims at each stage. The highly intuitive toolkit can benefit crime victims, victim’s representatives, advocates, and justice officials.

It took about two-and-a-half years for OCVJC to build the toolkit and the agency was supported by a grant through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Program Successes/Effect on the Community:

In Ohio, as in many states, a lot of rights that are afforded to victims must be requested during the criminal justice process. But victims may be unaware of this and then lose out on particular rights.

The Victims’ Rights Toolkit helps victims to identify which rights should be "automatic" and which rights "require notification.” If a crime victim learns that they must invoke a certain right and wishes to do so, they can simply request a letter through the toolkit and a letter drafted by the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center staff attorneys is generated. Crime victims may then send the letter to the appropriate agency.

Since its launch in October 2016, there have been more than 750 crime victims, law enforcement personnel, victim advocates, and others who have used the toolkit.

With the launch of the toolkit, there were two goals:  

  • Increase the number of crime victims and advocates utilizing the toolkit
  • Increase the number of victim service providers, advocates, and justice officials receiving training on the toolkit.

Both goals have been achieved as the toolkit has received an “exceptional response” since its launch, according to Catherine Harper Lee, Executive Director of the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center.

OCVJC has trained more than 420 individuals on how to use the toolkit, including law enforcement officers, judges, social workers, and victim advocates, among others, Lee said.

Additionally, OCVJC has worked with a number of community organizations and law enforcement agencies to promote the toolkit. The Columbus Police Department and Franklin County Prosecutors Office have included the Victims’ Rights Toolkit on their websites and many other justice officials have followed. Early in 2017, OCVJC partnered with the Ohio Library Association to provide Victims Rights Toolkit posters to all Ohio libraries.

Moving forward, Lee said she would like to work with other states to implement a similar resource in their states. To access the Crime Victims’ Rights Toolkit, visit Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center website.

Learn More:
To learn more about the program, please contact:
Catherine Harper Lee
Executive Director
Email: cathyharperlee@tjlo.org
Phone: 614-848-8500

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