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Victim Services

Our Services

Today, crime victims and survivors of more than 2,200 current inmates, probationers and parolees are registered with the NH Department of Corrections for notification services. (In 1997, less than 400 inmates had victims registered for notification.) During SFY 2011, 1,884 victim/survivor households were served through 6,628 documented service contacts by the Victim Services Bureau. Victims experiencing domestic violence concerns constituted seven (7%) percent of victims and survivors served. (This does not include people whose offenders were sentenced for criminal convictions related to domestic violence.) Persons served included 62% females and 38% males. During FY 2011, victims with offenders in the following crime categories were served::

Sexual Assault 33%   Other Violent 46%
Domestic Violence 7%   Non-Violent 14%

The following services are available for crime victims and survivors:

| Notification of Offender Status | Advocacy and Support during Reduced Custody Decisions |
| Accompaniment at Parole Hearings | Reasonable Protection from Intimidation and Harassment |
| Information, Referral and Support | Prison Tours | Restitution | Sexual Assault Prevention and Response |
| Victim-Offender Dialogue | Victim Impact | Customer Satisfaction |

Notification of Offender Status
New Hampshire law provides felony crime victims with the right to be notified of changes in offender custody status. Upon request, timely notification is provided to victims and survivors for inmate custody changes involving facility transfers, reduced custody, releases, parole revocations, escape and death of inmate.
Advocacy and Support during Reduced Custody Decisions victim services resource room
Some people feel anxious and concerned for their safety when inmates are considered for reduced custody or release. With respect for this concern, the Victim Services Bureau collaborates with prison classification and community corrections staff. Similar collaboration can occur during the parole process. These crime victims/survivors feel safer when the inmate or parolee is restricted from potential contact with them or their families.
Accompaniment at Parole Hearings
Victims have a legal right to provide input to the NH Adult Parole Board prior to its decision about an inmate's release. They may choose to attend hearings with or without the inmate present, or may send written input to the Board. Victim Services staff is available to accompany, support and advocate for victims/survivors who choose to participate. During SFY 2013, this included over 7,000 contacts involving accompaniment or other support during Parole Board hearings and offender reentry.
Reasonable Protection from Intimidation and Harassment
Crime victims have a right to be free from intimidation by the offender. The NHDOC offers reasonable measures for supporting the emotional and physical safety of victims. Contacts in prison visiting rooms can be restricted. The Victim Services Bureau advocates for victims complaining of intimidation or harassment by inmates. In collaboration with the victim-witness advocate of the prosecutor's office, the Victim Services staff offers outreach and support for concerned victims and their families. When reasonable information is received about such inmate behavior, appropriate action by the Warden or designee is taken, including cease and desist orders, formal disciplinary measures, or referral to the NHDOC Division of Professional Standards for possible prosecution.
Information, Referral and Support
Support and information is available for people interested in learning more about an inmate's term in prison. Our employees are available to offer assist and refer crime victims to appropriate resources. While respecting confidentiality of offender treatment needs, knowledge about prisons, probation and parole helps crime victims understand changes in an offender's life "behind the walls" or under supervision in the community. A brochure, Victim Services for Survivors of Crime familiarizes victims with available post-sentence services. A pamphlet entitled Probation & Parole - Community Safety, Victim Respect, Offender Accountability, describes adult probation and parole services in New Hampshire and the importance of victims in the Department's work in the community. A handbook entitled, Time in Prison - Community Safety, Opportunity for Change, provides comprehensive information about New Hampshire's prisons and halfway houses, the processes and programs related to the corrections role in public safety, support for victims, and offender self-improvement. These and other publications are available statewide through victim-witness advocates, crisis centers and our probation-parole officers. Other literature about national and local community resources is also available.
Prison Tours
For some crime victims and survivors, seeing firsthand where inmates are incarcerated helps to understand what "time in prison" is really like. Consistent with security needs, the NH Department of Corrections Victim Services Bureau will arrange tours of our correctional facilities upon request.
Restitution
When an offender is ordered to reimburse the victim for economic losses resulting from crime, the Division of Field Services collects restitution and disburses money to the victim. By law, the NH Department of Corrections and courts have authority to enforce each restitution order until it is paid in full. Questions about a specific restitution collection or disbursement concern can be addressed to the NHDOC Division of Field Services.

Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-79) requires correctional agencies to improve prevention, detection and responses to sexual abuse of incarcerated people. The NHDOC interdisciplinary Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) fosters a collaborative, victim-centered approach and supports protocols for safe, intimidation-free reports of sexual abuse. Our PREA Victim Advocate teams with investigators during interviews with inmates/residents reporting sexual victimization. Partnerships with the NH Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence and other agencies support access to sexual assault support services at each correctional facility. Along with other strategies, these activities continue moving NHDOC forward in reinforcing a climate and culture of zero tolerance for sexually abusive behavior.

Victim-Offender Dialogue (by victim request)

The NH Department of Corrections recognizes the many impacts of violent crime upon people who are crime victims/survivors. We respect the associated trauma, grief and recovery which they experience. Victim-Offender Dialogue empowers interested victims/survivors to meet with the offender. For people seeking opportunity to meet constructively with their offender to assist in recovery and healing, the Victim Services Office coordinates a facilitated dialogue in a safe environment. The dialogue is victim-sensitive and only occurs through extensive collaboration and preparation to promote the physical and emotional safety of the parties. With sufficient structure, preparation and resources, a facilitated dialogue between victim and offender offers an extraordinary opportunity, for both, in addressing the personal impacts of the crime. In New Hampshire and nationally, victims/survivors and offenders participating in such dialogue report it significantly, and favorably, influences their ability to move forward in recovering from the effects of crime.
Victim Impact
Some studies show offenders who learn and understand the impacts of crime are less likely to commit another crime. In partnership with victim advocates and correctional facility staff, a victim impact educational program is available to many prison inmates. IMPACT teaches how crime harms people and communities -- physically, emotionally and financially. It is an opportunity for inmates to improve empathy toward victims and other people. It offers opportunities for interested victims and survivors to be involved in correctional efforts to prevent further victimization in the community. IMPACT classes address the multiple effects of crime, including property/robbery, assault, homicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, hate crime, driving while intoxicated/drug offenses, child abuse and crimes against the elderly. Pre-post testing and other evaluation methods will measure whether inmates achieve a greater understanding about the impact of crime and improved empathy toward victims, survivors and others.
Customer Satisfaction
Our last objective measure of crime victims’ satisfaction was achieved through a Victim Services Satisfaction Survey distributed to 418 randomly selected persons served by our Victim Services Bureau. Questions addressed perception about whether crime victims' rights and needs are met during the post-conviction phase of the justice system. Anonymity was encouraged. Results were used to identify areas for continued improvements. With 31% of survey recipients responding, the following results were identified:
1. Prior to the court sentencing hearing, did a Probation-Parole Officer or Victim/Witness Advocate provide you opportunity to give a Victim Impact Statement for the judge’s consideration? 80% YES
Do you feel you were treated with fairness and respect (even if you disagreed with the sentence)? 99% YES
2. Have you seen the (various) corrections information publications? 52% YES re: printed publications
9% YES re: web page
If yes, did they provide helpful information? 98% YES re: printed publications
87% YES re: web page
3. After the court sentencing, were you informed about your post-conviction rights as a crime victim (e.g. notice about inmate custody changes, input to Parole Board, reasonable protection, restitution)? 82% YES
4. (If) you received Notice about an inmate’s custody change, did you receive (it) in a timely manner? 81% YES
Did the Notice provide appropriate information about the inmate’s custody status? 88% YES
5. Did you ask to be notified about the inmate’s Parole Board hearing? 84% YES
(If) you provided input for the Parole Board to consider, were you satisfied with the information and support available to you during the inmate’s parole process? 73% YES
(If) you had other contact with our Victim Services Office, do you feel you were treated with fairness and respect? 95% YES
 

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