Beyond Innocence

Common Justice

Toward a Framework for Serving All Survivors of Crime

Our media, our culture, and even some of our statutes continually reinforce the idea that in order to be deserving of care, a victim of crime has to be innocent. Sometimes innocence is tied to some intangible yet narrow notion of purity that our culture uses to assign value and, most often, recognize vulnerability. Sometimes innocence is a matter for the courts, the opposite of legally determined guilt. 

And sometimes innocence sits in statute, as with the regulations that guide the distribution of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds and require that these supports go only to “innocent” victims. In spirit and practice, both intentionally and inadvertently, this idea of “innocence” excludes a wide range of people from services and limits the options and resources available to people who survive serious harm.

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