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Crime Victims - Victim Rights

assistance federal programs act

By 1975 only twenty-three programs existed around the country to provide direct assistance to victims. Through the 1970s, however, victim advocacy groups were quickly gaining membership and attention from state legislatures and the federal government. In 1975 the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) was formed to coordinate the different groups and increase their effectiveness. One of the most successful groups was Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD was founded in 1980 by Candace Lightner, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Other groups included the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, founded in 1978, and Parents of Murdered Children.

In 1982 the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime reported a need for more victims' services beyond compensation programs, so Congress passed the Victim and Witness Protection Act (VWPA). The act protected victims, witnesses, and informants and provided compensation to victims of federal crimes. The federal act served as a model for state victim protection laws. The 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) provided $150 million to support state compensation funds as well as victim assistance programs. The federal funding programs encouraged the growing number of local victim assistance groups to work with criminal justice agencies.

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