New Common Justice Issue Brief Examines Need for Victim Services

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 4.30.05 PMAmong all of the discussions regarding inequities in our legal system, there is one impacted group that is continually left out—survivors of violence and trauma. Common Justice—a Vera Institute of Justice victim service and alternative-to-incarceration program—recently released an issue brief to spark efforts to change this: Young Men of Color and the Other Side of Harm: Addressing Disparities in Our Response to Violence.

Common Justice released this brief to raise awareness of this “often overlooked” group of victims, who are often young men of color, and to inspire further local and nationwide efforts to provide the support and services this group needs.

The brief provides background and history of this group and the issues surrounding them, why this matters for juvenile justice, the barriers to support for victims, and suggestions for future improvements. Highlights of the brief include the following:

  • Data from 1996 through 2007 revealed that young black men were the most likely to be robbed every year, most likely to be victimized by violence overall in six of the 11 years, and second most likely to be victimized in four of the 11 years.
  • Victims of violence experience negative, lasting impacts in regard to health, education, employment, finances, and future safety.
  • Stark misperceptions about what a “victim of crime” is among this group contributes to the lack of support. A 2008 Vera study: “When asked broadly if they had been “victims of crime,” they all responded no. However, when asked whether they had “had something taken from them by force or been robbed,” nine of the 10 [study participants] said yes.”
  • Current victim services lack access to services for primary needs (as determined by victims), which include “help securing employment, getting back to school or into GED programs, and developing tools to end the gang involvement or resolve the neighborhood-based conflicts that put them in harm’s way.”
  • Negative experiences with law enforcement significantly reduce likelihood that a victim will report the crime; the most recent study revealed that unreported violent crimes increased by 130 percent from 2011-2012.

Efforts to improve services and support provided to victims of crime and trauma are growing—especially for young men of color. In the last few years, a number of programs and platforms have surfaced that are dedicated to this issue, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise initiative, the National Network of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs, the Institute for Black Male Achievement, and the White House’s recently launched My Brother’s Keeper.

Common Justice is also developing a learning collaborative for people and organizations who are or could be working with young men of color who have been harmed by violence.

For more information, read the nine-page brief and visit the Common Justice website.

Updated: February 08 2018