January 24, 2022
NOVA BOARD APPROVES CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM FOR MEANINGFUL VICTIM-CENTERED PRACTICE
NOVA joins a number of national organizations in approving the following justice reform:
Justice Reform and Crime Victims | Assessing justice reform and reinvestment strategies
As national and state policymakers seek changes to the justice system in the service of more effective, efficient, and just outcomes, it is imperative to consider the rights and interests of victims of crime. Criminal and juvenile justice system reform must include meaningful protection of the interests and rights of crime victims to avoid harmful, unintended consequences.
Reform strategies should serve not only public safety and the interests of the accused; but must serve those personally harmed by crime. Policymakers and stakeholders are urged to use the following six questions to analyze the impact of proposed strategies on victims of crime and to guide discussions about meaningful, equitable reform that will serve the interests of all:
• Does this strategy implicate the intent and/or provision of statutory or constitutional victims’ rights?
• Does this strategy coerce or compel victims to participate in programming or unwanted communication with the offender?
• Does this strategy disrupt a funding stream that supports victim services, such as conviction surcharges or assessments? If so, how will the financial support for those victim services be maintained?
• Does this strategy dilute or eliminate victims’ access to meaningful notice and opportunities to participate or provide input as currently required in your state?
• Does this strategy eliminate or reduce the opportunity for victims to receive court-ordered restitution for crime-related costs? If so, how will the financial recovery of victims be supported?
• Does this strategy create uncertainty about something a victim believed was final, such as a sentence, release date, or probationary period? If so, will victims be given timely and accurate notice of changes, and will they be given an opportunity to be heard on the impact of this change?
These prompting questions emerged from discussions by an alliance of state victim rights enforcement/compliance programs and other organizations that support victims and promote victim rights. State agencies, victim coalitions, and other stakeholders are encouraged to use and share them widely.
April 21, 2021
NOVA STATEMENT REGARDING THE VERDICT IN THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD
Dear NOVA Community,
NOVA joins victim advocates across the country during National Crime Victim Rights Week (NCVRW) in honoring victims of crime and standing united for a fair and just criminal justice system. It is poignant that the trial for the murder of George Floyd has come to a close during NCVRW. This trial has captured the attention of our nation and become a symbol of the systemic racism and historical trauma experienced by individuals and communities across this country. Yesterday’s guilty verdict marks a critical step toward equality in justice, yet we know a single verdict will not undue the legacy of racism and oppression within our country. We must be relentless in our efforts to combat systemic injustice, and elevate the voices of all victims and survivors of crime.
As we recognize the historical significance of this verdict, I encourage us all to remember the loss and suffering of George Floyd’s family, as we do every day when we advocate for victims and survivors of crime. As Victim Advocates, we know that trials and verdicts rarely provide solace or peace, and may not offer the closure that survivors expect. I hope every member of our NOVA community can take time to reflect upon this loss, and find meaning in the critical work we do each day to help victims and survivors heal in our communities and throughout the nation.
Claire Ponder Selib
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
January 4, 2021
NOVA GRIEVES THE PASSING OF FORMER NOVA BOARD PRESIDENT AND HONORARY ADVISORY MEMBER, JOE MYERS
It is with profound sadness that NOVA reports to it members and the larger NOVA family the passing on December 29, 2020 of our beloved former President, Joe Myers. Joe was a longtime Board member of NOVA and served as our Board President from 2007-2009. Joe remained a member of NOVA’s Honorary Advisory Board. We will miss him dearly, but will keep his wisdom and gentle strength in our hearts always.
We extend to his family, our sincere sympathy and deep respect.
Joe, a proud Pomo Indian from Northern California, dedicated his life to building a more just society. He served as a law enforcement officer who went on to earn a law degree from the prestigious UC Berkeley College of Law. In 1983, he founded the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) which became the nation’s leading resource for tribal legal training and technical assistance, dramatically improving the administration of justice in Native communities.
He helped establish the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, which bears not only his name but his commitment to improving life in Native communities. He served as its co-chair from 2010-2020.
With NOVA, Joe was a champion for expanding rights and services to crime victims across the country. He led NOVA through years of challenge and change, leaving NOVA stronger and better. He was always thoughtful and wise, a calm, steady leader who gathered others through the strength of his character and intellect. His legacy as a champion for justice will live on in our hearts and in all those whose lives he made better.
October 2, 2020
NOVA BOARD MEMBER AND PAST PRESIDENT RECEIVES 2020 OVC AWARD
Steve Twist, current NOVA board member and past NOVA Board President, received the Victim Rights Legend Award from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) for his unwavering commitment to advancing victims’ rights.
“I was led into the victims’ movement by so many compelling stories of injustice.
After I graduated from law school, I went to work for the Navajo Nation. We collaborated on a resolution that passed in 1975 that established the Navajo Nation Victims’ Rights Commission. It was the first of its kind anywhere in the country.
We don’t have to sit back and accept things the way they’ve always been. I was called upon ultimately to rewrite the criminal code in Arizona. It became effective in 1978. And we wrote into that criminal code the very first beginnings of some victims’ rights statutes.
I served for 12 years as Chief Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona. I began to work more directly with victims in criminal cases. I got so motivated to once and for all begin a movement for victims’ rights in our state.
There is a powerful voice in just one person who has the courage to stand up and be heard. We need lawyers who will stand up in courtrooms representing crime victims and say, “Your Honor, you can’t do this.”
We’re at a watershed moment in the development of victims’ rights. We now have rights written into most of the constitutions of the states. We have judges who’ve been trained in victims’ rights law. I’m inspired by all the victim advocates who work tirelessly in the struggle for justice.
Stories of great injustice, cases of great injustice, break down silos. They bring people together from diverse disciplines to try to fashion a response that treats people, crime victims, with respect and dignity and compassion and gives them a voice. And I only see hope and good things on the horizon as Americans really do come together to support these changes. The legacy will be a system of justice and fairness.”
Biography: Because of Steve Twist’s vision, zeal for assisting victims in need, and his relentless determination, crime victims across the country have meaningful and enforceable rights. He started his advocacy for victim’s rights as a lawyer for the Navajo Nation. In 1975, he drafted a Tribal Resolution that established the Navajo Victim’s Rights Commission. Mr. Twist was the driving force behind Arizona’s crime victims’ constitutional amendment, known as the Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights (VBR), which was enacted in 1990, and its implementing legislation in 1991. Beyond providing rights to victims on paper, Mr. Twist had a vision for providing victims a way to enforce their constitutional rights and assuring that their voices would be heard.
In 1996, Mr. Twist shaped the future of victim services and victims’ rights when he founded Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, the first clinic of its kind to provide both legal and social services to crime victims. By providing victims with their own no-cost attorneys and social workers to enforce victims’ constitutional rights, Mr. Twist contributed significantly to advancing their effectiveness. Since 2001, he has served as an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, teaching crime victims’ rights law. Mr. Twist’s work for victims extends beyond the borders of Arizona. He has worked tirelessly toward a federal constitutional amendment that could potentially provide federal constitutional rights to all victims of crimes. He was instrumental in the 2004 passage of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), by working with the two lead sponsors of the legislation, Senator Jon Kyl (Arizona) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (California). The CVRA has protected victims through the federal system and provided model language for states to protect victims’ rights in state laws. After the passage of the CVRA, Mr. Twist and attorney Keli Luther took the first federal case under the CVRA in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. His argument before the court was successful. Mr. Twist has also been instrumental in the passage of constitutional amendments in other states; his constitutional language is found in states all across the country. He drafted the core language for Marsy’s Law in California in 2008, and now serves as a member of the National Policy Team for Marsy’s Law for All.
August 10, 2020
NOVA PARTNERS WITH ICAOS
The National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is proud to partner with the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) to ensure victims of crime are treated with dignity, fairness and respect, and to promote victims’ rights and safety when probationers and parolees are transferred across state lines. For more information on ICAOS’ rules on victim notification, please see rules 3.108-1 and 3.108.
An ICAOS victim representative is available in every state to assist victims and family members with questions regarding these rules and victim notification. Additionally, NOVA and ICAOS have collaborated to establish a new resource for victims of crime and family members who are seeking support and advocacy when offenders are moved across state lines. You may email ICAOSfirstname.lastname@example.org and a NOVA victim representative will reach out to you within one (1) business day. Together, NOVA and ICAOS are committed to promoting victims’ rights and safety.
July 8, 2020
NOVA AND R3 CONTINUUM ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP
Enhancing crisis services with an innovative national Multi-Disciplinary Team approach for corporations and their employees: NOVA is pleased to announce its groundbreaking partnership with R3 Continuum (R3c) out of Bloomington, MN. NOVA will work in collaboration with R3c to provide experienced National Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT) comprised of R3c and NOVA crisis responders. Read the full press release here.
July 1, 2020
NOVA’S CRISIS RESPONSE PROGRAM & COVID-19
Every crisis response is a unique opportunity for us to put what we have learned to the test; and COVID-19 has not let us down with unique opportunities! Just like the rest of the world our day-to-day operations have been turned upside-down. What do we do if we can’t teach in person? How do we even respond to people in crisis if we can’t see them in person? When will things be back to normal? These were just a few of the challenges we faced at the beginning of this pandemic and I am happy to say that we were able to manage workable solutions for these concerns.
When will things be back to normal? Well this is a question that happens to be the most difficult for most of us to answer, however what we teach (preach) in CRT is that what we know really helps people to begin to move forward after a traumatic event is EDUCATION and CONNECTION. Part of the education side of this formula is helping individuals to have a staunch acceptance of reality. Our staunch acceptance of reality was this…it may not.
So what do we do when faced with that understanding … we move into another part of our model which is Prediction & Preparation. We take the tasks before us in small manageable steps and don’t try to solve every presenting problem at once.
NOVA was able to develop the “touch base” program to allow us to connect with and provide emotional support for not only our membership, but others, in order to have support in these trying times. Our goal was to provide a support network for those on the front lines when we could not be there to assist. We have also had many of our members telling us how they have been able to provide virtual crisis interventions for people in need. They have used a variety of platforms similar to, and including, Zoom. We have also had members providing virtual crisis education sessions similar to the one Dr. Suzanne Anderson lead on one of NOVA’s Virtual Gatherings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1PPU0Bh3lk&feature=youtu.be .
In regards to Crisis Response Trainings, we have worked to be able to provide a virtual class experience that is as engaging as our face-to-face trainings and we feel confident that we have been able to achieve this. We were fortunate to pilot our virtual BASIC CRT Training with the Investigations Unit for Department of Homeland Security. We trained 41 members of their team that serve as forensic investigators, field agents, and victim specialist. The CRT virtual training was well received and we have already begun our second class with the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.
The need for our CRT Training remains in high demand and we are working to accommodate all of host agencies that had to cancel their trainings due to the pandemic. CRT staff are working to schedule new requests as best we can. We are looking to resume our face-to-face trainings once we believe that it is safe to do so, but we have also decided that we will continue to provide the virtual version of our CRT training.
Another lesson that we teach though CRT is that part of strong resiliency is having a deep belief that life is meaningful. What we do is value added and definitely has meaning. Some of our greatest challenges have led to some of our greatest accomplishments. Unique challenges have become unique opportunities! NOVA’s CRT team is working to meet the obstacles before us and to accept our NEW NORMAL! We are grateful for our CONNECTION with you and appreciate your support and dedication to assisting individuals in crisis.
April 25, 2020
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR VICTIM ASSISTANCE ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF CLAIRE PONDER SELIB AS NOVA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Alexandria, VA. The National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce its decision to appoint Claire Ponder Selib as its Executive Director overseeing all operations of the non-profit victim assistance organization. Founded in 1975, NOVA is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing. Since its inception, NOVA has played a prominent role in the development and recognition of crime victims’ rights and services.
“The Board of Directors is delighted that Ms. Selib will be serving as NOVA’s chief executive officer effective immediately,” said NOVA’s Board President, Andrew Yurick. “She has been a driving force behind much of NOVA’s recent innovative programming, developed under her role as Deputy Director, and now we look forward to her experienced leadership as Executive Director.”
Selib has a long history in the field of victim assistance beginning her career in a hospital-based sexual assault services program and was a guiding force in supporting victims of sexual assault in the military prior to the Congressional mandate requiring training and certification for military sexual assault advocates. She was first hired by NOVA to serve as Project Manager for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D- SAACP) initiated by NOVA in cooperation with the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office in 2012.
Yurick spoke highly of Selib’s leadership when he added, “Claire Selib has long been an innovative leader in the victim services field, bringing a victim-centered and trauma-informed foundation to so many of the programs she has initiated during her tenure with NOVA. She is responsible for the NOVA Victim Assistance Academy and took that one step further with the development of the National Advocacy Leadership Center (NALC), both of which prepare and continue to educate crime victim service professionals across the country and around the world.”
Selib had been appointed to serve as Interim Executive Director when NOVA’s previous Executive Director, Retired Chief Justice Richard Barajas officially retired in September 2019. “Claire took on the interim assignment and the Board of Directors knew almost immediately she was destined to serve as Executive Director. It was as if she had been NOVA’s ED for years and she is the perfect choice to lead this organization forward.”