Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) is a non-profit regional law firm that provide high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.
RISE Project: Rights in Systems Enforced
In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) which sets forth specific rights for victims in federal criminal courts. At the state level, victims’ rights can be found in more than 30 state constitutions and every state’s statutes. In addition, many tribal codes afford victims’ rights.
While these legislative efforts demonstrate great progress, many victims remain unaware of their rights and many others lack support to seek enforcement of their rights. Moreover, many civil legal attorneys who are experienced with providing services to crime victims have not incorporated crime victims’ rights enforcement into their practice. Thus, crime victims who frequently need assistance with both the enforcement of their rights in criminal proceedings and advocacy on civil legal matters that result from the victimization find themselves without full support. In addition, prosecutors, advocates, and other professionals working with victims often lack training and support regarding the meaning and scope of victims’ rights, the significance of those rights to victims, and how to enforce those rights.
To address these issues, the federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has funded several legal service initiatives that seek to increase victims’ rights assertion and enforcement. The most recent of these is the Rights In Systems Enforced – RISE – Project. RISE is a national effort built upon lessons learned from previous rights enforcement projects.
LAWO is proud to partner with Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center (OCVJC) and the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) to ensure that all Ohio crime victims have access to no cost legal assistance to protect and enforce their rights. The RISE Project has substantially increased the number of attorneys providing no cost victims’ rights enforcement services to victims of crime in Ohio, with a focus on the underserved 32 county western region of the state.