The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) is committed to providing victims of juvenile crime their rights under the law, ensuring that they are informed, involved, and treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department :
- Affords victims of juvenile crime their rights under the law, and recognizes their losses.
- Upon request, provides victims of juvenile crime accurate and timely information in accordance with agency policy.
- Assists victims by acting as a referral source to available services.
- Ensures that TJJD personnel are trained in victim sensitivity issues and rights.
- Develops youth awareness of how their delinquent behavior victimizes others.
Definition of a Victim of Juvenile Crime
A person who as the result of the delinquent conduct of a child suffers a financial loss or personal injury or harm (Texas Family Code 57.001).
Victims of Juvenile Crime in Texas Have the Right to:
- Protection from harm and threats of harm arising from cooperation with prosecution efforts
- Have the court take the safety of the victim into consideration in determining whether the child should be detained before adjudication.
- Information about relevant court proceedings
- Information concerning the procedures of the juvenile justice system, including preliminary investigation and deferred prosecution; and appeal of the case.
- Provide information to a juvenile court conducting the disposition hearing.
- Information regarding compensation to victims.
- Information about procedures for transfer to parole supervision or transfer to the pardons and paroles division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- Participate in the transfer process.
- Provide to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department information to be considered by the commission before the transfer to parole.
- Information about the transfer to parole supervision or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- Be provided with a separate or secure waiting area from other witnesses, including the child, before testifying at any proceedings.
- Prompt return of any property that is held as evidence, when the property is no longer needed for that purpose.
- Have the attorney for the state notify the employer of the victim, if requested, when the victim needs to be away from work for testimony or cooperation in court proceedings.
- Be present at all public court proceedings.
- Any other right appropriate to the victim of an adult offender.
See the complete text of Chapter 57 of the Family Code (.pdf).
Upon request, the victim may be notified of:
- The offender's commitment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
- The minimum length of stay or length of the sentence.
- Movements between placements within TJJD.
- When the offender is to be considered for placement on parole, or transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- When the offender is transferred to parole status or to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- The name, address, and telephone number of an appropriate TJJD employee to contact for additional information.
By law, certain information is confidential. For example, TJJD is not allowed to reveal the following:
- Assignment to a residential program if the program is for substance abuse or treatment of a mental/emotional illness or mental retardation.
- Medical information.
- Results of assessments.
- Information in the chronology documentation of the youth's case file.
An important component of TJJD’s treatment program is the development of "victim empathy." Victim empathy involves learning to understand how the victim thinks and feels about the crime, and how the crime has affected the victim's life. Awareness of and concern for the feelings of others can help reduce victimizing behaviors and future crimes. TJJD staff use victim impact presentations as a valuable tool in group therapy to impress upon youth how their behavior affects not only the individual who is victimized, but also the families of the victim and the offender, and the community as a whole. Youth who attend the presentations have said that they never before understood how much their actions had harmed others.
Passed by the Texas Legislature in 1979, the Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Act created a fund and established statutory eligibility guidelines for the provision of certain benefits for crime victims. The revenue in the Fund comes from people who break the law and pay court costs. The amounts vary depending on the types of crime they commit. The Fund is administered by the Office of the Attorney General, Crime Victims' Compensation Division.
Links to Victim-Related Information
- Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) - http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) - http://www.ncjrs.gov/
- Violence Against Women's Office (VAWO) -
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) - http://www.madd.org
- National Center for Victims of Crime - http://www.ncvc.org
- National Center on Elder Abuse - http://www.ncea.aoa.gov
- National Victims Constitutional Amendment - http://www.nvcan.org
- National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) - http://www.try-nova.org
- Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) - http://www.pomc.com