By Rashida I. Sims.
If you are interested in equal justice and serving others, then consider joining the Victims Committee of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section (CJS). This committee encourages a new conceptualization of the notion of the victim. The Victims Committee examines issues relating to crime victims and their participation in the justice process.
Issues taken up by the committee include the rights and fair treatment of victims, financial compensation for victims including restitution and other needed services, justice for victims and their participation in the justice process, policing and punishment of criminal offenses, and the victim rights movement.
The Victims Committee supports individuals affected by violent and non-violent crimes as well as white-collar crimes. A victim may be more than just the person immediately harmed by the crime and can include the family and/or caregiver of the person harmed. The Victims Committee works to support programs and propose legislation that provides services and support to crime victims, such as counseling services to rape victims and financial recovery to fraud victims.
Students are encouraged to get involved with the committee and the CJS. The CJS includes more than 19,000 criminal justice professionals: Think local prosecutors, U.S. Attorney, Attorney General, and defense attorneys across the United States. Membership in this Section provides an ideal opportunity to network and meet lawyers practicing in your field of interest. Membership benefits include membership in the full section of the CJS, regular newsletters, participation in the Victims Committee listserv, and access to CLE programs. Membership is complimentary with ABA membership and can be completed online at: www2.americanbar.org/sections/criminaljustice/CR300000/Pages/default.aspx.
Three committee goals are particularly relevant to law students:
- Work in conjunction with the Academic Committee to encourage law schools to expand their curricula to include materials related to crime victims.
- Work with the ABA Pro Bono Center to provide pro bono services to victims.
- Increase the committee’s membership and participation.
The CJS also offers law students opportunities for developing practical skills through participation in the National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition. The next competition is scheduled for March 29–31, 2012.
For more information about the Criminal Justice Section, visit www.americanbar.org/groups/criminal_justice.html.
Vol. 39 No. 9
Rashida I. Sims, a third-year student at William H. Bowen School of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is the 2010–11 liaison to the Criminal Justice Section–Victims Committee.