Thursday, November 27, 2008

Georgia State Professor Awarded Grant to help Give Homicide Victims’ Families Answers after Tragedy

Families of homicide victims have limitless questions after their loved one is gone — questions about what happened, which are often hard to get answers to as court cases wind their way through the legal system.

Georgia State University’s Elizabeth Beck and the Georgia Council on Restorative Justice have sought to help answer those questions, by helping to give victims’ families access to information from the defense — which often is the only party that has answers.

Now, thanks to a $656,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration, Beck and her colleagues hope to create a model to bring the concept, called Defense Initiated Victim Outreach, to other locales, like Texas. The federal grant furthers the GCRJ’s work, which stems from funding from the Justice, Equality, Human Dignity and Tolerance Foundation.

“After a homicide, the victim’s families often have a lot of questions, and sometimes, the only people with the information that can answer the questions are the defense,” said Beck, an associate professor of social work in Georgia State’s College of Health and Human Sciences. “We work with defense attorneys, and the prosecution, so that victim-survivors can have access to information that can help to answer their questions.”

A key principle of Defense Initiated Victim Outreach, or DIVO, is that victim-survivors should be provided with as much information about the crime, the case and the process, without compromising due process for defendants.

Trained Victim Outreach Specialists work with the defense and victims’ families to help provide this information, and to help reduce the potential of additional emotional trauma — which can happen during testimony, cross-examination or other parts of the process.

For more information about the Georgia Council for Restorative Justice, visit

Georgia Front Page
Fayette Front Page

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