Mason Professor Advocates for Victims’ Rights
Posted: April 15, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
With 23 million crimes committed each year, it is apparent that crime can strike anyone. Historically, more emphasis has been placed on dealing with the offender rather than meeting the needs of the victim.
That changed somewhat in 1982, when President Ronald Reagan established the Presidential Task Force on Victims of Crime. Only then did the nation begin to see more effort dedicated to protecting victims’ rights.
Every state and the federal government have established statutory rights for victims, and 33 states have amended their constitutions to protect those rights. Yet despite these advances, victims still face significant hurdles to attaining real justice.
As Mason and the nation recognize National Victims’ Rights Week, which began Sunday, April 13, individuals have been asked to consider the steps needed to achieve justice for all, says Karen Bune, part-time faculty in the Department of Administration of Justice who teaches a course called Victims and Victimization.
Bune has worked in the criminal justice system for 29 years. For the past 14 years, she has worked in victims’ services and is currently a victims’ specialist in the State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County, Md. where she has been working for four years.
“As someone who has been involved in victims’ services for many years, [I feel] it’s important to have Victims’ Rights Week on campus and around the nation so that we never lose sight of crime victims whose lives have been transformed by crime,” says Bune. “As a society we need to let victims know that we care and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Bune works directly with victims of domestic violence and serves as a consultant for the Office for Victims of Crime for the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of her responsibilities include conducting training programs and speaking on the local and national level (she participates in Mason Speakers) about victims’ issues. She also writes for law enforcement publications such as Officer.com, Law Officer Magazine and New York Cop Magazine Online.
In her job, Bune helps prepare victims to testify against their abusers in court. She explains to victims their rights, familiarizes them with the criminal justice system and helps them work out safety plans.
In Bune’s class at Mason, students discuss crime and victimization ranging from homicide to financial and hate crimes. They also discuss the impact of victimization of these crimes and how survivors such as families and friends are affected by victimization. Students learn how the different components of the system, including the police and judiciary, should interact to deal with crime victims.