The Juvenile Victim Services Unit is a unique unit which provides assistance to victims and witnesses of juvenile crime. The unit's primary duties include, but are not limited to, reaching out and helping victims and witnesses through the dispositional process. The unit provides accompaniment to all court proceedings and act as an advocate on behalf of the victim. Victim services attempts to help the victim feel as comfortable as they can with the dispositional process as possible. Victim Services also provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of juvenile crime. The unit is available 24 hours a day. This allows the unit to offer early outreach to the victim’s and witnesses of juvenile crime.
The Victim Services Unit was established as a response to the financial, emotional and physical losses of victims of crime. Victim/witness coordinators help to ensure that the victim receives fair and proper compensation for their losses. Restitution generally covers cash, property losses and medical bills, regardless of whether they are covered by personal insurance. Lost time and wages can not be recovered under the current Pennsylvania law. If a victim files a claim for restitution through the probation office, they still have the option of filing for a civil action. In the case of bodily injury you can file a claim with the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Compensation Board.
The Victim Services Unit is activated when a petition is filed with the juvenile probation office. The victim is contacted and made aware of the services available to them. Victims first receive a Victim Impact Packet which is full of useful information. Included in the packet is information on the operation of the juvenile justice process, information on the effects of juvenile crime, to include emotional, physical, emotional and financial effects on the victim and family.
The victim receives a Victim Notification Request Form with the Victim Impact Packet. this allows the victim to inform the Unit of how involved in the case they want to be, what effect the crime had on them and their family, and any suggestions they might have as to the consequences the offender should face and input on the type of community service the youth would do. The Victims Services Unit also has the capacity to keep the victim informed as to any change in the status of the juvenile offender.
The Unit is essential to the community in that it provides a voice to the Victim and witnesses of juvenile crime.