Welcome to the National Crime Victim Law Institute
The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) is a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal education and advocacy organization based at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. NCVLI’s mission is to actively promote balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim centered legal advocacy, education, and resource sharing.
Visit the Our Team page to read NCVLI’s resume and learn about our Board and Staff.
Learn more about the funding sources and program expenditures on our Financials Page.
NCVLI actively promotes comprehensive and enforceable legal rights for crime victims and access to knowledgeable attorneys to help protect those rights in every case through victim centered legal advocacy, education, and resources.
We envision a justice system in which every crime victim has:
- comprehensive and meaningful legal rights;
- access to a trained victims’ rights attorney at no cost; and
- rights that are recognized and enforced.
- Empowerment. Voice, choice and agency are critical components of empowerment. We recognize and acknowledge that individual experiences, needs, and decisions will vary and support empowerment by providing legal expertise to ensure victims may make informed decisions, and to have those decisions honored and respected throughout the criminal justice process.
- Dignity. We value the dignity of all individuals and believe that every person deserves to be treated with respect and with care for their well-being.
- Equity. NCVLI works to ensure all victims – no matter their identities or backgrounds – have their rights afforded and are treated by the justice system with respect and dignity. Please see our full statement below for more on how we approach this work.
- Collaboration. We view our work as part of a national community. we actively seek out, amplify, complement, and support the work, knowledge, and perspectives of other organizations and individuals – to ensure that victims’ rights are respected and enforced throughout the country.
- Innovation. We value creative legal analysis, inventive solutions and strategic litigation to advance victims’ rights.
Our strategic plan includes a commitment to:
Training & Education: We will continue to train nationwide on the meaning, scope, and enforceability of victims’ rights, to host the Crime Victim Law Conference, and to maintain a robust online Victim Law Library. As we look forward, we will ensure the broadest reach of our work through social media engagement, technology advancements, and dissemination of our legal writings; we will enhance community awareness of the existence of victims’ rights and how victims can ask for their rights in a variety of venues and we will grow the capacity of law students and lawyers to represent crime victims.
Legal Advocacy: We will continue to ensure attorneys and advocates working with crime victims can make the best arguments possible to protect victims’ rights by providing them with technical assistance in the form of legal research, writing, strategic consultation, and amicus curiae (friend of the court) support in strategic cases. As we look forward, we will redouble our efforts to secure positive appellate case law through enhanced litigation tools and technical assistance for attorneys representing victims, active participation in appellate litigation, and creation and dissemination of pro se victims’ rights assertion tools.
Public Policy: We will continue to work in partnership with others across the country to secure victims’ rights legislation that guarantees victims substantive rights and the procedural mechanisms to secure those rights. As we look forward, we will more actively develop and disseminate model legislation, host policy forums, and work to ensure victims’ voices and rights are centered in policy conversations.
Learn about how NCVLI has been writing the next chapter
Watch a video about how our work to recognize victims’ rights as human rights.
Watch our video to hear why victims’ rights matter and NCVLI’s role in advancing victim’s rights.
Watch our video to learn why victims’ rights and victims’ voices matter.
Let’s Get Loud
Watch our video to learn about how our Staff is committed to getting loud to amplify victim voice.
Commitment to Equity
We recognize that to honor our mission, vision, and values and to contribute to a more just system, we must continue working to remove historical and systemic racism and discrimination. We recognize that this work is evolving and ongoing and we are cognizant that we will misstep in our pursuit of equity. We will learn from our mistakes and hold ourselves accountable to our principles. Our work must continue to reflect our commitment to individuals and communities that the criminal justice system has historically underserved, oppressed, and harmed.
Read our Equity Commitment Statement
NCVLI defines its work through an equity lens.
- We believe that every crime victim has comprehensive and meaningful legal rights and must have access to a knowledgeable attorney for representation in the justice system;
- We believe that every crime victim’s attorney must have access to inclusive education, training, and technical support from a community of experts that reflects the people it serves;
- We believe that every person playing a role in the justice system must respect and pursue knowledge about the legal rights of every crime victim and understand the justice system’s barriers to equitable access and treatment;
- We believe that every person working in support of crime victims’ rights must create equitable access to representation for members of communities made vulnerable, marginalized, or underserved by the justice system;
- We believe that crime victims’ rights must be equitably and consistently enforced to facilitate meaningful participation in the justice system for every person; and
- We believe that every right of every crime victim must be honored in every case.
NCVLI acknowledges inequities.
- We acknowledge that inequity is pervasive and historic. Disparities and discrimination are daily occurrences that are rooted in long-standing majority privilege and power inside and outside of the criminal justice system;
- We acknowledge that inequity occurs within all levels of the criminal justice system and within other systems pivotal to comprehensive crime victims’ services;
- We acknowledge that equity demands more than representation and inclusion to correct the power imbalances with which our systems have burdened some communities and individuals; and
- We acknowledge that diverse representation alone fails to dismantle the unequal nature of voice, resource allocation, and visibility that exist in the criminal justice system.
- We will hold a continuous dialogue about our equity work within our organization and within the greater criminal justice system;
- We will expose and unravel the historical and systemic inequities in the criminal justice system through leadership, trainings, and technical support;
- We will advance practices that build equity, as well as acknowledge and amplify those victims and victims’ rights professionals who are equity champions;
- We will continue to engage in formal cultural competence development for our staff, board, and volunteers;
- We will expand leadership and employment positions according to our commitment to equity;
- We will integrate an equity lens into every aspect of our organization; and
- We will advocate for the broader development of policies and practices in the criminal justice system that better serve the historically and systemically marginalized, oppressed, and underserved people throughout the nation.
Doesn’t NCVLI’s goal of providing legal services to victims in criminal cases mean it is just another arm of the prosecution, which is already paid for by taxpayers?
No. Victims’ rights are personal rights that exist independent of prosecution, defense, or the court. In fact, prosecutors represent the state, not the individual victim of the crime. NCVLI’s goal of ensuring victims have access to free lawyers knowledgeable about rights is meant to ensure that every crime victim has a voice in the process.
In addition to connecting victims with attorneys, how else does NCVLI help victims with their legal needs?
NCVLI provides training and technical assistance (research, writing, and strategic case advice) to attorneys and advocates so that every attorney and advocate, even those in solo practice, can represent victims with the power and resources of a national entity behind them.
If I donate to NCVLI, can I designate which program the funds should be used for?
Yes. While NCVLI works hard on behalf of all victims of crime we know that donors often want to dedicate funds to certain purposes and we are happy to accommodate them.
Is NCVLI a government agency?
No. NCVLI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by a Board of Directors.
Does NCVLI provide free legal services to every victim who contacts it?
No. In fact, NCVLI rarely provides legal services directly to victims. When a victim contacts NCVLI, we work to pair that victim with support services in their area and to find a lawyer in our pool of pro bono attorneys who is willing to provide free legal services. We partner with those volunteer lawyers to ensure top quality advocacy on behalf of the victim.
NCVLI receives a great deal of funding from the federal government. Does that mean taxpayers are already paying for these services?
No. The federal funding NCVLI receives is predominately through federal grants derived not from tax dollars but from fines, penalty assessments, and bond forfeitures of convicted federal criminal offenders.