Victims’ Rights are a fundamental component of our criminal justice system because it ensures that Jane Doe has a voice in the justice process. It wasn’t until over thirty years ago that these rights were put into place as federal law. Not surprisingly, without the codified rights, judge’s, prosecutors, and defense attorneys largely could ignore Jane Doe in the process and make decisions for her that they thought were best.
We have to continuously re-examine how we treat victims in our court process. Diving deep into incorporating trauma-informed care into your practice helps Jane Doe in the healing journey.
For various reasons many tribes have not codified these rights. It often times is because they were never historically codified or incorporated into tribal codes. If your particular community does not have these rights, I implore you to advocate for these to be incorporated into your tribal codes.
Being understood, protected, acknowledged, and listened to, is part of the healing journey. Not incorporating these rights into our codes leaves the court without teeth to hold anyone accountable for failing to notify Jane Doe.
Our system(s) are already historically patriarchal, misogynistic and unkind to Jane Doe. Most of us don’t have to make decisions that involve the increased risk of future intimate partner homicide – so most of us don’t have the empathy to understand how treacherous and dangerous this process can be. It often times takes years for Jane Doe to leave an abusive relationship. Having rights and assurances in the criminal process can help give Jane Doe peace of mind that she is cared for and protected when tragedy happens.
As part of the effort to ensure every court has these rights or some rights alike, we put together a simple draft that you can find here https://parnalladams.com/tribal-law/. If your court system does not have these please take these and do your best to make sure that changes.