OVA: Statement on Connecticut Victims' Rights


The State of Connecticut continues to make great strides in the area of victims’ rights.  Since adopting the Victims’ Rights Amendment to our state constitution in 1996, Connecticut has enacted many laws intended to provide genuine opportunities for crime victims to effectively participate in the criminal justice process and to require that victims’ concerns are addressed by all professionals within the criminal justice system.


Connecticut’s victims’ rights laws serve to promote respect for crime victims, including their safety, privacy and the interest they have in seeking justice.  In addition, such laws serve to foster administrative and judicial sensitivity to the difficulty experienced when crime victims are unexpectedly drawn into an often indifferent, but always confusing, criminal justice system—often at the very time they are trying to cope with injury and the trauma of personal loss.


Connecticut’s Victims’ Rights Amendment affords crime victims the same protection and status of rights provided to those accused of committing crimes.  These state constitutional rights, along with the many other statutory rights afforded Connecticut crime victims, represent a formal acknowledgment on the part of our state lawmakers that crime victims have an important participatory role in Connecticut’s criminal justice system.


Subsequent to incorporating victims’ rights into our state constitution in 1996, our state lawmakers have continued to demonstrate their strong support for and commitment toward protecting and expanding the rights of crime victims in Connecticut.


For example, sensing the need for an independent “watchdog” agency to oversee the enforcement of victim rights in Connecticut, our legislature, in 1998, created the Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) to help enforce, protect and further the rights of crime victims in the criminal justice system. The Victim Advocate, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature, has been given broad authority to:  monitor the provision of services to crime victims by state agencies and private entities; receive and investigate victim complaints regarding  their treatment by the criminal justice system; intervene in court proceedings to advocate for a victims’ rights when their rights have been violated; and make recommendations to the legislature, victim service providers and criminal justice professionals for changes in state policies and laws to help promote and protect the rights of crime victims in Connecticut.


The OVA’s independence from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government is a vitally important feature of the office. To be effective, the Victim Advocate must be free to criticize or celebrate, in appropriate situations, governmental agencies, officials, public employees and other professionals involved in the criminal justice system.  The need for independence is readily apparent given the Victim Advocate’s broad oversight jurisdiction. 


The public, particularly those individuals who have been victimized by crime, has responded enthusiastically to the creation and work of the OVA.  Since its inception, OVA clients have sought and received a variety of services including information, support, investigation and in-court advocacy in the criminal justice arena. The OVA has also received strong support from Connecticut lawmakers, and has worked effectively with many members of the Connecticut General Assembly on legislation to promote and enhance victims’ rights for all of Connecticut' citizens.


The consistent recognition and implementation of crime victim rights within our criminal justice system is a priority for the OVA.  All too often, crime victim rights are not enforced because they have not been incorporated into the daily functioning of all criminal justice professionals.  Implementation of rights has often been arbitrary and based upon the individual practices and preferences of criminal justice officials.  Additionally, with the exception of the creation of the OVA, victims have lacked any enforcement mechanisms, thereby leaving them without adequate remedies to enforce their rights when they are violated.  


Much work remains ahead to ensure that rights for crime victims are honored and respected to the same degree as the fundamental rights of the accused and convicted offenders.  We would not tolerate lapses in the enforcement of rights for those accused and convicted of committing crime and we should not tolerate such lapses for crime victims.  The OVA will continue to play an important role in helping accomplish the goal of consistent enforcement of victims’ rights in Connecticut’s criminal justice system.


The OVA continues to be a unique and effective voice for individuals who have been victimized by crime. The OVA will continue to help ensure that the rights afforded crime victims in Connecticut are honored, respected and enforced throughout the criminal justice system; continue to monitor and evaluate services available and rendered to crime victims; and continue to work to advance and further policies throughout the state that promote the fair and just treatment of crime victims throughout the criminal justice process. 

Content Last Modified on 8/14/2013 2:01:25 PM