Jun 2, 2023Crime Victims, Justice Project, Legal

This project was supported under funding awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice Grant Number 2012-VF-GX-K023 awarded to the Alaska Institute for Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions of this report are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Evaluation & Data Collection

The research in Alaska employed various methodologies and approaches both in instrument creation and data collection. While the three methodologies used in data collection included a survey, interviews and focus groups, the design and creation of all the instruments used a participatory action research methodology. Many different people were involved in the participatory action research process to build consensus around items in the survey instrument.
The researchers advised and consulted with the project team and the network steering committee on many aspects of the needs assessment including:

 data collection on services provided;
 victim experience survey;
 appropriate methodologies to answer the research questions;
 design and format of the survey instrument;
 interview instrument; and
 focus group interview instrument.

While the research team provided advice and consultation, final decision of specific survey, instrument and focus group interview questions and wording was arrived at by consensus of the larger project team and network steering committee.
Top Four Evaluation Findings:

– Crime victims most often experience multiple forms of victimization. Crime victims in Alaska like many rural jurisdictions across the United States experience co-existing and overlapping legal needs that arise in the wake of their victimization.

– Access to free legal services makes a critical difference in crime victims being able to access safety and justice. Stable long-term funding for legal service providers is critical to meeting crime victims’ needs. Access to legal services improved crime victim well-being in the areas of health, education, employment, immigration, family, safety and security, financial, housing and rights enforcement.

– Crime victims have a host of different needs that generally cannot be met by one individual agency or service provider. It is important to have strong inter-agency relationships between legal services providers and other service providers in order to provide holistic wraparound legal services for crime victims.

– Language access resources are critical for rural, underserved and limited English proficient survivors to access holistic wraparound legal services such as immigration, family law, and rights enforcement to participate in the justice system and increase their safety.

Research Summary

The national scope of the project’s deliverables include research documenting the unique barriers experienced by crime victims in rural Alaska. This is valuable not only for Alaska but is replicable for other rural states across the United States facing similar challenges and fundamentally changing crime victims’ access to safety and justice. Alaska’s OVC crime victim survey results are groundbreaking because the majority of survey participants were from underserved racial, cultural and ethnic populations within Alaska. Alaska’s implementation plan was developed from diverse survey responses including 350 crime victim from rural communities. Lessons learned and successful strategies developed in Alaska through this research will be helpful to other rural states facing similar challenges in providing crime victims with holistic wraparound legal services and developing effective referral mechanisms among partner agencies to meet the unique barriers experienced by rural and limited English proficient crime victims.

The Alaska Institute for Justice was awarded a Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network Demonstration Project grant, funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) in 2012. Alaska was one of only six sites from across the United States competitively chosen to participate in this exciting grant opportunity. Dr. Lepage and Dr. Rivera with the Justice Center at UAA served as our local research partner. The local researchers developed a technical proposal detailing the methodological approach to the needs assessment within the first three months of the grant. The local researchers conducted a literature review, identified models for data collection, identified sample parameters and selection methods, and led collaborative development of Alaska’s crime victim survey tool. The survey tool was designed after thorough review of the current literature and comprehensive review of models used in other locations. Following a participatory action research model we received invaluable feedback from crime victims who provided critical revisions to the draft crime victim survey to account for and be sensitive to the multi-cultural and multi-linguistic populations of Anchorage, Bethel, and Juneau that participated in the needs assessment.

The local researchers prepared an IRB application and obtained approval for the research. The local researchers also worked with Alaska’s network of service providers to successfully conduct the needs assessment in the first phase of this project. The needs assessment informed development of the implementation plan which has been successfully implemented over the past three years of the project. The researchers designed the final evaluation tools of the project and participated in collecting data and documenting lessons learned from the project that are shared in this final evaluation report.

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