The Champion

December 2006 , Page 49 

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The Role of Victim Outreach

By Terrica L.. Redfield

Read more Death Watch columns.

Victim advocates are a common part of the prosecutorial system. For years, contact with victims has been primarily, if not exclusively, within the province of the prosecutor. In recent years, however, there has been a concerted effort on the part of defense teams to engage specially trained individuals to reach out to victims in their cases, even in capital cases.

Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach (DIVO) seeks to reduce the trauma to victim-survivors that often results from the adversarial and technical nature of the legal process. This is done by providing a more active role for homicide victim-survivors in death penalty cases without compromising the due process rights of capital defendants. Trained victim outreach specialists help defense attorneys understand the needs and experiences of victim-survivors; they also help meet the judicial needs of victim-survivors, especially those that can be addressed by the defense and the defendant.

DIVO was introduced at the federal level in the

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