The Office of Justice Programs of the Department of Justice is busy promoting Vision 21 Transforming Victims Services, the DOJ’s sweeping “new” agenda for providing “services” to victims of crime. I’m using the scare quotes here because I don’t trust Eric Holder to do anything about crime other than politicize it.
Vision 21 is certainly a paean to identity group activism and identity group representation and identity group “outreach.” True to form, the DOJ leaves no stone unturned in their efforts to kick the justice system further down the road of pure identity-based balkanization.
But the most troubling thing I’m seeing at first glance is the emphasis on providing “services” to victims in lieu of getting justice for them. It looks like Vision 21 is providing multiple opportunities for activist organizations to exploit crime victims for other ends. The involvement of groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Soros-funded, pro-offender VERA Institute for Justice suggests to me that one of the primary intentions of Vision 21 is to neuter the voices of real crime victims who demand real consequences and real sentences for violent and repeat offenders. And, sure enough, Holder’s handpicked leaders have been floating anti-incarceration messaging in the endless “stakeholder forums” that inevitably accompany such initiatives.
Expect to hear a lot about how victims “want to be heard and included more than they want prosecutions.” Expect offenders to be counted as sort of “co-victims” of crime. Expect a lot of talk about the restorative justice movement, which was long ago hijacked by advocates for criminals and is now used primarily to keep offenders out of prison, rather than making them take responsibility for their crimes. The “criminals are victims too” activists who hijacked restorative justice and profit from the vast “criminal re-entry” service industry are running the show at the DOJ.
Visin 21 is certainly a full-employment vision for the criminology profession. And putting criminologists in charge of anything relating to crime victims is like sticking puppies in tiger cages. But feeding the criminologists has been a primary goal all along. Laurie Robinson’s tenure at the DOJ was dedicated to systematically subjugating the criminal justice system to the academic criminologists, in order to, of course, take all that vengeful punishment and incarceration stuff out of the equation (except in the cases of so-called hate criminals).
Now Mary Lou Leary is carrying the full-employment-for-criminologists ball. FYI, “smart on crime” here means hopefully not incarcerating anyone, no matter what they do, unless Eric says it’s a hate crime:
This focus on careful analysis is one of the Justice Department’s top priorities. We are committed to promoting programs and approaches that are “smart on crime.” Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, I can assure you that this is more than a mere buzzword. For this Department, being smart on crime means resisting knee-jerk reactions, investing in solid research, and ensuring that evidence is translated so it is useful to all of you on the frontlines.
Get it? This is supposed to be a statement about victim programs, but Leary is talking “knee-jerk reactions.” They’re helping crime victims avoid “knee-jerk reactions,” like wanting their offenders behind bars. This will be accomplished with science.
On the positive side, The National Crime Victim Law Institute and other highly credible crime victim advocates are also involved in Vision 21. And the initiatives to professionalize and expand evidence collection is money well-spent.