President Ronald Reagan's Impact
on Victims' Rights
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan formed a Presidential Task Force to focus on victims of crime, a group which had been largely ignored in the past by our system of justice. In fact, the Task Force found the treatment that crime victims received at the hands of attorneys, judges, and law enforcement personnel at that point in time to be a "national disgrace". This was the beginning of the rights of crime victims we now have in our system of justice and community programs.
Using Reagan's original leadership, the Task Force’s report to Congress outlined goals of guaranteeing that crime victims would be informed, present, and heard in their cases and a U.S. Constitutional Amendment would be pursued. Victim service professionals and crime victims joined together throughout the country and secured victims' amendments in 34 state constitutions. Florida was one of the first states to pass a constitutional amendment for victims' rights. When the votes were counted, Brevard and Seminole counties had the highest percentage of voters supporting the amendment than any other area of the state. While the push for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment has been unsuccessful thus far, the Congress did approve Senate Bill 2329, outlining the basic rights that must be granted federal crime victims. The work continues to fulfill the promise of amending the U.S. Constitution.
The fact is that without President Ronald Reagan, the progress on this issue would be minute compared to what it is today.
In his fight for victims' rights, former President Ronald Reagan was showing, as he did again and again in his career, his care and concern for common men and women. The victims of crime know no one political party, no one financial status, and no one racial or ethnic background. They are you, and they are me. By his actions, Ronald Reagan provided greater protection for us all as he conducted his on-going charge of leading America to becoming the best nation she could be.
State Attorney Phil Archer
18th Judicial Circuit