An Oral History of the Crime Victim Assistance Field
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Beatty: John, could you start by stating your name, spelling it for us, giving your title and your organization?
Stein: Sure. I'm John Stein, J-O-H-N, S-T-E-I-N. I'm the Deputy Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance.
Beatty: Well, we'd like to start by asking you how you got involved in the movement? What brought you to this field?
Stein: It was in an accident. My partner and I had a little consulting firm, had had experience in working on para-professionals and the Criminal Justice System. Some of that work caused us to study the way prosecutors work and led to our thinking through the first kinds of victim witness staff and non... paralegal, before the term paralegal was adopted. But more specifically, we were invited, because of that background, to put together a program to train Community Service Officers for the Dayton Police Department. This was in the 1979 and '80, after the riots and after the President's Crime Commission had recommended a Community Service Officers might be a device for getting low income, minority people in particular, interested in police work, working with the police and using it as a stepping stone into the police ranks and Dayton wanted to try this.
Dayton had had some pretty tough racial problems. So they hired us, 30 people, mostly young people, and we were involved with the training. I went, I flew out to Dayton once a week with a trainer and the two of us would have a couple days with these people. Towards the end of this, three or four months of, three months I guess of this stuff, the Sergeant in charge of all this said, "We've got a problem. We're confident these CSOs will be able to relate to the community, understand the community problems, they don't have enough to do, they'll be getting in the squad cars and their... they don't have enough to do. We need to think that one through."
And the trainer and I and my partner all agreed and we had a skull session the next week and they tell me I was the guy who suggested, as we were putting ideas up on the board, maybe the CSO could stay behind after the officer takes a report and see what they can do to help the victim. And they liked that idea, I liked the idea. It would, it became part of their job description. They completed the training. They got, went in the squad cars and they were all fired within two or three weeks or two or three months because the city was in terrible financial shape in 1980. We started laying off police officers and even though these were all funded, grant-funded positions, they couldn't keep these folks on. In any event...so, that would have been the first, to my knowledge, the first victim service kind of activity in the country had it happened.
It didn't happen but the idea seemed like a good one. So I was, with my ongoing work with prosecutors and that, I was interested in the idea remained interesting for me. It combined in the criminal justice stuff something, an earlier passion for me which was I had been involved with the civil rights stuff in law school and my brother and I started the Civil Rights Project at our George Washington Law School. We were there together. He went on to become a civil rights lawyer in North Carolina. I stayed in DC, but the... .that passion hadn't left and I saw the victims of crime as people deserving of the kind of compassion and assistance that blacks in the south were deserving of then.
As I was, since I was there kind of early in the game, I, you know, I saw a lot of the early people who were drawn to the victims' movement, I call it the victims' movement at that time I guess it was a little premature, but in any event drawn to the idea and I don't think many of them had that kind of civil rights flavor to them. Many of them had a feminist ideological thing. I think what we shared though was a, we were issues, politicians issues, people and this was an issue that we kind of got passionate about. So.
Beatty: Okay. Thank you. Thanks for everything.
Beatty: Okay. John, you actually were one of the people that were here at the beginning of this field, in the beginning of this movement. I think it would be interesting for people to know what it was like 20, 30 years ago when it got started. Maybe how it's contrasted with where we are today.
Stein: Okay. One of the early projects that I did, I think it was in '75,'76, '77, was to do a survey of the brand new victim service programs around the country. We date the first ones to 1972, discounting the Dayton experience in 1970. I guess it was '69 and '79, I said '79 and '80. But, by... by '75, there were probably a couple dozen, maybe more, there were quite a number, there's several prosecutor-based victim service programs that had just gotten started. And so I traveled around the country to take a look at these programs, and it was fun. It was interesting and through it all I got to know a lot of the pioneers.
Bob Denton, as an example. I went to interview him and and the, at the Furnace Street Mission in Akron, Ohio where he was starting a victim service program. Harold Boscovich was the Deputy Director of a brand new program and he, in the Alameda County DA's Office in California. I, you know, these were all likable people doing interesting new things. I knew about the formation of NOVA from this, the world of folks that I like... I knew and liked. I didn't... I wasn't drawn particularly to joining it at first, not all of the movers and shakers getting it growing, you know, struck me as being well organized and I didn't see much in it.
Uh, I was... but I was there in Fresno at the second, what we now date as the second National Conference on Victim Assistance, where the first membership meeting, I guess, of NOVA was to be held. I didn't sit in on it. The first National Conference incidentally was held in '74 in Fort Lauderdale and my partner went to that and, but for the accident of his going to do that and not me, I would have, I'd be able to say I've been to every one of the 28 annual conferences, which weren't quite annual since we went from '74 to '76 for the second one. A little footnote. In '78, Congress started de-funding LEAA and by '79 it had completed it.
Beatty: And LEAA is what?
Stein: The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. It was the... the Justice Department Grant Program arising out of the same riots and the same law and order issues of the Nixon Administration line. And LEAA was the engine of financial support for the first Victim Witness Programs and prosecutors' offices and for some of the rape crisis and domestic violence programs. When it became... when it was being un... de-funded, I saw, as all of us did, the potential termination of the victims' field. And it was my feeling that we ought to fight that one back and, I'd worked on the Hill in an earlier lifetime and thought, you know, lobbying was gonna be needed and joined... I sought to join the Board of NOVA at that point, not because I thought it was yet a great... a significant organization but that it was the only game in town, the only game in the country.
And so I went to Bob Denton, who was the President, and others, Dick Knudten and others on the Board and said, "Gee, I'd love to run" and they said, "Well, we'd love to have you." So I go to the next Conference that I guess was in Philadelphia, though Marlene may remember better, but, and stood for office. I only found out later that (throat clear) one of the founding Board members prior to the... the elections had vigorously protested my candidacy, on the theory that I had just joined the organization at that Conference and (cough) hadn't been around for very long in... in the organization and hadn't shown any loyalty to it and now here I'm sitting on the Board. Well the, evidently the counter argument that, to Marlene's objections was that-- yeah, but we don't have any rules saying you had to be a member.
So happily the... the legal eagles won that one and I got on the Board where, among other things, I ended up meeting Marlene and working with her and, uh...
Beatty: And that's Marlene Young, right?
Stein: Marlene Young, yeah, who was our, NOVA's Executive Director and so she is my full-time boss, as I often explain. I'm now on a part-time basis, we're husband and wife when we're physically in the same part of the world and together. Um the early years of NOVA, I think, are... were to me significant in that when she became President, which I think was the... the seminal of that in the life of the organization and the victims' movement, NOVA got its first little grants from LEAA, which I guess by now had a little bit of money back. It got much more of a vision, about what needed being done and it took off. Do we have a... an argument...
...I think I wrote a paper somewhere in the early '80s. Now in 1980 Marlene became President and I became Vice President of the Board. In '81 with the resignation of our two young staff people, Marlene was asked to be Executive Director and asked me to be Deputy Director and we did that and she moved her offices from Oregon to Washington and set up shop in DC. Along in there, Marlene just out worked everybody else and out thought everybody else and as a result by 1982 with the President's Task Force coming into being, she just rolled up her sleeves and kept pulling all of these all-nighters to produce papers for Lois Harrington, the...chair, and for others and and established the reputation that NOVA, I think it still holds on to being the professional voice in the field as well as the... a visionary in the field.
That was the difference and that would go back to the idea of a paper I wrote in the early '80s. I think somewhere in the paper I said, a reference to the victims' movement isn't... is premature. It was the 1980s, I'm not sure when it was. So it was premature where mostly professionals or staff or supporters who are not ourselves victims or survivors of crime, but we may be becoming a real quote "victims' movement." Marlene argued that, in fact, a lot of the people who were in the field were survivors of crime. They just weren't self-proclaimed survivors. She also argued that starting around 1980 the... the survivors of crime began to form their own organizations. Candy Lightner started MADD in 1980. Charlotte Hullinger started Parents of Murdered Children in '81, I think, '82.
And so we were in truth becoming a victims' movement, and my quibbling over that kind of got erased over time. But it was wonderful to live through that transition from a bunch of a few idealistic or kooky people to be able to look around and say, "My God, this is part of a larger movement, a larger vision." One last thought on that. The work I did on studying prosecutors was largely done at the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Washington, DC and the head of the Superior Court Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office, it was a guy named Charles Work. It was he who commissioned Frank Cannavale, a social scientist to study what it was that witnesses did or did not do to help in the prosecution.
Cannavale is, he died suddenly as a fairly young guy, but his work, his book was finished and it was called On Witnesses and it was his conclusion that it was the maltreatment of witnesses that was the biggest source of prosecution failure. And that gave rise to the idea of well let's have units in prosecutors' offices to treat these guys nicely. Let them know when their next court date is, to just a lot of simple courtesies. Chuck left there to go to work for his old friend, Donald Santarelli, who headed the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. So, in '74 when the first three big grants to prosecutors' offices were issued one day NDAA, the National District of Attorney's Association, one of the very instituted Justice of New York to set up the tribunal program in the Brooklyn DA's office and the third to the Milwaukee DA's, Office. When those three grants were issued it was really Chuck Work's interest that had fired up Santarelli to do all that.
Somewhere early on in this era I remember having a conversation with Chuck, who was Deputy Director of LEAA, saying, "You know, it is not just enough to let the witnesses know what their next court date is or what... what's appropriate to wear or maybe show up in the courtroom beforehand to get them oriented... oriented. They're going to want to express their opinion about, oh, plea bargains and stuff like that." And Chuck was a very bright guy. He said, "I know there's a lingering underneath of this work that we're doing is, not just victim services, but there's some victims' right stuff." He said, "And I'm not in favor of that, not now. I don't think we have to do that."
But it was interesting. I mean, it was the first kind of victim, it was before we heard any demands about "I want to be in the courtroom" or whatever. A lot of the folks involved saw it coming. Some resisted it. Some welcomed it but, that was a... an important period of transformation as well.
Beatty: Um-hum. Okay. Great. Thank you. What would you say was the... the greatest challenge you and your colleagues faced during the evolution of the field to affect the kinds of changes that you mentioned?
Stein: The, um, certainly getting over that funding hump was a critical one. To keep going in the face of, you know, the... the Santarelli subsidy to the... to get the field started was critical, I think. And to survive the demise of that subsidy successfully was maybe had been the most important singular event. It was, these were ideas that seemed to make sense. And while a whole lot of prosecutors resisted installing Victim Witness Units, enough of them saw them as beneficial that it kept going. While few police departments or chiefs saw them as advantageous, enough did to say, "I'll find the money somehow." The rape crisis centers were being driven by their own momentum and they were not gonna be resisted. They were not gonna be shutdown at rough times. The same was true of the shelters for battered women.
But the, somewhere in its early years a momentum took hold that wasn't going to stop and I think that's... that was the President's Task Force becomes another watershed thing but I think it's... it's surviving up to the President's Task Force which was probably the critical thing. Some of this history is biography. Let's just say some people were crucial at a crucial time. Frank Carrington was a ...an amusing, bright, abrasive, funny, loner lawyer who had worked for a long time as counsel to Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, I think it was. Its mission in life was to oppose the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers who were bringing police brutality cases. They were protecting the cops. I don't know how it was that Frank said, "Hey, we've got to start doing civil justice for crime victims," but he did.
And I don't know how he came to know a law professor out in California named Ed Meese but he did. And I know that when Ray was elected in 1980, Frank's friend Ed Meese was counselor to the President, later to be Attorney General and, they put together as their crime package, one of the first things was the Attorney General's Task Force on Violent Crime. Attorney General William French Smith, well Frank was naturally gonna be on that Task Force and that Task Force took on the exclusionary role and all the other law and orders issues that the... that the conservative lawyers cared about and Frank got them to throw in one recommendation at the end of this report.
It was something like there ought to be a study commission on victims of crime. And that was the magic turning point that led to the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime. The other MADD's, the other piece of biography that enters in, you know, a kind of a chance but it was the President's Chief of White House Personnel, John Harrington's wife, was a prosecutor and she didn't have a job and they were living here in Washington. And somehow the Personnel Director found a job for her as chairing the President's Task Force on Victim's Crime, Lois Harrington. A second little piece of biographical accident was one of the guys they appointed was the Republican Attorney General in the State of Washington, whose name I'm forgetting right now, maybe you... you know it. But, whatever, well... it'll be on the record.
Beatty: Ken Eikenberry?
Stein: Ken Eikenberry, exactly. Ken came to the President's Task Force with a panacea to fix all victim problems, a Constitutional Amendment for victim rights. No one knew what he was talking about or anything else. But those two made a huge difference. Lois was, I think, inclined to write a report that echoed the same law and order concerns of the Attorney General's report on violent crime and said "I think with a lot of coaching from Marlene and others and certainly listening to the victims... with care that they had before their hearings," they wrote a report that had two absolutely powerful earthshaking recommendations in them that would not necessarily have been there.
One was Ken's odd idea about constitutional rights for victims and the second was a pair of recommendations that fundamentally got wrapped up into the creation of VOCA-- the Victims of Crime Act. That then, I've always described that as the marshal plan of the victims' movement. It provided... it produced the money that's made all the difference. So.
Beatty: Okay. What would you say are your secrets or strategies that... that you have used during the years that you found most successful in whatever context you might voice that?
Stein: Well, I'm drawn to the line that Bob Preston has always used. Bob is a hero of our movement, a survivor of his daughter's murder, the father of victim rights in Florida and then where he helped to get that state to be really one of the... one of the first states to have a Constitutional Amendment for victim rights and then he moved to Colorado and helped that state to do the same thing. And along with Roberta Roper has chaired the National Victims' Constitutional Amendment Network. Bob said it was all smoke and mirrors what they accomplished in Florida. That he did go out and get a lot of people to sign petitions, but he basically kept going to the legislature and saying, "I represent ten thousand victims of violent crime," or some other figure. And he buffaloed them into thinking that he actually had those people on his mailing list, it wasn't quite accurate.
You know, we have had occasion to do some heavy lobbying and found that we don't have a lot of letter writers in our arsenal to do it. We got more now than we used to, but by and large most of the public policy changes have happened out of a combination of the decency of our cause and the latent power of angry victims who would be mad at politicians who ignored them or maltreat... or continued to maltreat them. I think that's been the major secret. We have not been able to generate...well, in my view, we've generated a lot of passion within some sectors, among the victims of drunk driving, among the the victims of domestic violence.
But we do not have an overarching passion that connects us all enough. And wherever we've gotten the... the flurry of passion within our subgroups, we haven't been able to sort of set the whole movement on fire in the same fashion. We keep working at that and I'm not sure but that we'll someday gonna get there. Um but there, most people in the public policy arena are, think that we got more moxie than perhaps we do and we're fine... I'm pleased to keep that a complete secret now as we have in the past, you know.
Beatty: Thank you. Well and this question may sort of dovetail into the... to your last answer. What would you see as... as some of the failures or the challenges that remain for us as a field?
Stein: Yeah. There is a problem that I... that relates to some of the other questions that come along in here. Most of the people who work in the field now didn't grow up in the field. Most of them who work in the field work in it for a salary. While we still have a very high contingent proportion of volunteers doing a lot of the day-to-day work in the victims' arena, we run the potential of becoming yet another public service governmental and non-profit bureaucracy... set of bureaucracies. I don't think we run the risk of becoming really sick bureaucracies as I think many child protective services agencies became for lack of funding and training and the like. But we also run the... run a serious risk of not having the passions and the help that started it all and to see the mission through.
I mean our... the mission is, as I see it, is to ensure that there is victim services within a phone call away for anybody at anytime and that there... that the dignity of the victims will be honored in the justice system and other systems as a matter of right, everywhere and every time. We're not there yet, haven't gotten real close, we've gotten closer but not close and we may not get there and that's... that would be wrong, that would be... that would be too bad. You know, NOVA is, we just finished a Board meeting in which we kind of rededicated ourselves to that larger picture and talked quite a bit about this very worry of the bureaucratization feel.
I think the NOVA Board is committed to keeping the passion going and also improving the professionalism so that we're not just hiring anybody, we're hiring people who are gonna do a good job. And so, you know, the jury's out. We'll see.
Beatty: Okay. What would you say is the greatest accomplishment of the field that's promoted victims' rights and services?
Stein: Well, I seem to lay it all on the... the enactment of the Victims of Crime Act. I could've, it's one of many but it's a... it is particularly useful in that it... it's brought serious bucks into the... onto the table. Curiously we had no idea how much money there would be when the idea was first proposed. The Treasury Department had never made a count of revenue coming in from civil and from criminal fines, they were all lumped together. And so we were delighted in 1985 when the first collections came in there was something like $68 million sitting there and that's some serious money. That's great. But we did it on faith and we, it... it was an exciting thing. This was Lois' invention, Lois Harrington. She and her colleagues.
There is no question that Marlene, NOVA and others had urged the Task Force to talk about Federal funding of victim rights, victim services, victim compensation, but it was their invention to say let's find the money out of Federal criminal fines, all of them. No one had ever thought of that before and no one's done it since, but they did that. And since there were no stakeholders in those fines at the time, Congress went along with it. The initial VOCA proposal that her Office put together, Lois went from being Chair of the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime, which ended up really the beginning of 1983, to an appointment as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, as it's now called.
She was the first Assistant Attorney General to hold that office, where she created administratively the Office for Victims of Crime, which a few years later was recognized legislatively in a... an amendment to VOCA. And her first job on... on the, (throat clear) in taking on that Assistant Attorney General thing was get OVC up and running and get this VOCA idea shaped into a... a Bill language. My memory is that the original Bill that she put together with Dave Tevelin and others... other lawyers on the staff put maybe half the bucks into helping Federal victims of crime or maybe half the bucks into helping victim compensation. It took some while, which NOVA and I personally noted judiciously, collectively massaged the Bill to come up with a formula whereby yeah, compensation have a claim to half the bucks but a sub-formula would mean that they would actually have far fewer and what they didn't need to use would go back over to the victim assistance side, I think I was in on the creation of that idea.
We certainly were part of a chorus of people saying, "You can't give a huge amount of dollars to Federal victims, there aren't that many of them," particularly the victims of violent crime. And so it was fun to be part of a process that... in which people thought real hard and carefully about how to shape a piece of public policy that were not interest groups, that were clamoring to, you know, get this or get that. We were working pretty much together, working with a pretty bright Counsel of the Crimes Sub-Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. And I say Crime Sub-Committee, I think he was but he was also, Tom Hutchinson was appointed by Chairman Peter Rodino and Rodino had actually been a... had been the first person to introduce the Bill to help support crime victim compensation when New Jersey's Compensation Fund went, ran out of money one time.
So he had sort of a higher interest in this. But, we really worked together collaboratively. It was done all at that sub-committee level. The Senate went along with it ultimately, and then we sat back and see what we had created. The one hiccup that happened in the course of the, probably is less than a year, was Arlen Specter... Senator Specter went to the floor of the Senate and proposed an amendment that no one objected to...which he dreamed up without anyone lobbying him. He went in and said that in the Victim Assistance Grants priority should be given to helping victims of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. And we screamed as soon as he did it. We kept saying over and over and over again we have no objections to who is on that list. It's the people not on that list that we think that need to be taken care of.
And so it was a year or two later that we, I think, we, that NOVA came up with the idea of this formula of adding another priority of otherwise underserved victims of violent crime to kind of even things out in the mixture of the victims of homicide, their survivors, victims of drunk driving and other assaultive crimes were also given some consideration in the creation of victim service programs. NOVA's... VOCA's had other hiccup problems. It's, um, most, you know, they added the Children's Justice Act, which we thought we had throttled in its crib by saying, "It's a great idea and it should be funded by regular appropriations," and, um, no they took that out of VOCA, which would, violated our principles that this had to be dedicated to all victims of violent crime.
And then more recently they've done some awful things, as you well know, of earmarking some money for the FBI and for the U.S. Attorneys and starting to, you know, use VOCA funding to do what regular Government appropriations are supposed to do. And the worst or one of the worst offenses I guess, is the caps that are currently on the amount of money you can use out of VOCA. But all that being said, the fact is it remains a huge engine of change and benefits. Both benefit to tens of thousands, if not millions of victims, but I appreciate it. I mean, it went from a $68 million-dollar Fund to what is now about a half billion-dollar Fund, it could be around $500 or $600 million bucks.
The compensation subsidy has never been a lot of money but it has induced the compensation programs to be much more liberal in their rules and who they're going to help and how much they're going to help them. Transformed what was a field of green eye shades people resistant to helping with financial aid to victims to one where they're looking for ways to be helpful. Unquestionably doubled, tripled, quadrupled the number of victim service programs and in the country.
If not by its own dollars, by inducing states to add dollars and the like so it's, you know, it's been a... it's been a great thing. And I'm sorry that no other country and no other state has done the same thing, as I say, transformed criminal fines into methods of helping repair the lives of victims.
Beatty: What in your opinion, would you say today is needed to continue the growth and professionalism of the field? What's still missing out there?
Stein: Well the last issue on our... in our Board meeting that just finished up was the work that we're doing on creating credentialing systems for crisis response people that is in place and now we're taking on victim advocates generically with a credentialing system. That second one, well I mean, the crisis response credentialing is gonna go well. It has already gone well. We've already had hundreds of people take and pass the test and commit themselves to continuing education to make sure their skills are up and working with victims of traumatic events that affect a whole lot of people in a given community, a community crisis.
That's gonna keep going because Marlene invented what it was to be a crisis responder and how to respond appropriately. Her manual is gonna be the best in the field and the NOVA model of responding in this way is gonna... is gonna keep going. And so to be NOVA trained and NOVA certified is gonna be what these folks want to do. That's less true of the, or it's... it's less true that it's going to be certain to happen for victim advocates in the credentialing that we're putting together there. I think our training package and our thinking of what you ought to be able to do, what you need to know and the skills you need to be a good victim advocate, there, is packaged well in our... in our materials, in our training. But there are lots of other people doing it mostly parallel, mostly similar, mostly, you know, a lot of it derived from our earlier work but whatever.
I think there is a con... a growing consensus within the field that we need to insist on our own professionalization. That we've got to be able to pass some tests. That we've got to ultimately be able to pass tests that tests our... our behavior, our skills in action, but those are hard tests to run, but ultimately we've got to be able to do that. And we've got to be able to keep up. We've got to, we... we must demand of ourselves that we are professionals in doing this work. Whether or not NOVA's initiative to try and make good on that consensus, to... to respond to it, is going... is gonna take off, we just don't know yet. I'm hopeful that it will. Several states have already started this process anyway. I mean it isn't like, you know, it's not gonna happen, it will happen. Whether or not, you know, I'm proud of our work here and our contributions and our thinking and I'd like to hope that... that the NOVA model of credentialing will... will prosper and help to bring professionalism to the field.
But in the larger sense there... well there is a larger issue out there, and we recently in our meeting voted to do a recognition of Kevin Burke, who is the District Attorney retiring now in Essex County, Massachusetts, who I attributed the following statement to. He evidently never said it but he meant it and his lawyers understand it to be his policy. I thought he had once told his lawyers, the... the Essex County is just north of Boston, it's probably got a 150 lawyers on his staff. He once told them, "Look- you have a lot of victim advocates working side-by-side with you," and that's true. One of Kevin's great virtues is he has one victim advocate for every three felony prosecutors. Very rich services there in the standard.
He said... he said or I thought he said, "They are professionals with their own perspectives on how to manage the cases that come to them and you. You have a legal... a lawyer's professional perspective. Theirs is not the same as yours. I don't expect you to agree with each other all the time on how to, whether to take a plea or what kind of a plea or what to do with a particular case. I just want you to understand that when you do disagree, that's a professional disagreement which is perfectly healthy, and second you don't win, necessarily, when you have those disagreements. I'll make those decisions." Now that's where, what I want to see the victim... the victim profession... the victim assistance profession in the future being. As a recognized professional with... whose views are respected, won't necessarily always be won but respected as... as legitimate as the next guy, the next judge, the next prosecutor, the next whoever.
Beatty: Okay. What advice would you give new professionals and volunteers that are just now coming to the movement?
Stein: Take a couple days off and listen to all of these tapes. And I say that sort of jokingly but it would be, you know, we are scared. We who were there at the beginning, we're scared that the fervor and the excitement of the, that started all of this, will get lost on the... on the new people. And it will be, I mean for the most part but, so we've agreed that... that their training programs give them some of the historical stuff, that they can see some of the historical stuff, hear it from the... from the stuff... from the people who did the historical stuff, all that I think is helpful.
The second thing is that I hope they aspire to professional status. As it happens, the Director of Kevin Burke's victim service program in Massachusetts, sat at our Board meeting today. She said we're the training ground for the Probation Department. She said...
Beatty: Michaelene McCann?
Stein: Michaelene McCann was saying because our salaries are $10,000 bucks less than a... than a... than a social worker working at a... in a Probation Department and so we're training these people to make a career there. Well, I would wish for the incoming people to say, "No, I want my $10,000 extra dollars in my salary in the victim assistance arena, thank you very much, and I want to be able to earn it." I want to be able to say I deserve as much as the next skilled probation officer. So.
Beatty: Okay. Well, John, what would you say is your greatest fear, if you have one, for the movement? If you haven't already addressed that in some of these other questions.
Stein: I think I have. I think , you know, I'm scared that... that the rights that we are seeking to accord victims will not really be honored routinely or if they aren't routinely for some people that they're denied for victims who are, whose skin color is different from that of the decision-maker or his economic status is lower. I'm fearful that the, you know, the victim rights stuff, laws won't get fixed up, won't get improved, won't get buttressed, will not be under girded with a Federal Constitutional Amendment. I'm fearful for that.
I'm fearful that the work in the domestic violence shelters and in the rape crisis centers and the prosecutors' offices, the police departments, the work done... being done for victim services will be seen as a recognized...bunch of tasks that don't require a lot of skill, don't require a lot of passion, don't require a lot of training. I mean it, you know, the bureaucratization of what we do, is a danger. And, my last breaths will be fighting against that danger but that's, it is a danger. It's a real danger. It's... it's a better danger than the one that I talked about earlier, though, and that was the danger of folding altogether.
One thing that we should appreciate about the victim assistance arena, I think it is... it flies in the face of human instincts. I think across cultures and across times, humans naturally turn their backs on victims of crime, victims of misfortune. That... that it is human nature to ostracize, to put down, to blame the victims and, this movement has said that may be our instincts and we're going to... we'll go to war against them and I think we've succeeded. I think that's... that one... that is a sustaining nice thing that we've been part of.
Beatty: Is there anything else that you'd like to add that I didn't ask you about for purposes of posterity, important history that we didn't cover in our short time?
Stein: I can't think of anything.
Beatty: Okay. Great.
|This project was supported by Grant Number 2002-VF-GX-0009 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this product are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.|