Victim-witness advocates are essential to the criminal justice system. The descriptive and explanatory study illustrates the role of victim-witness advocates, by articulating how they perceive and function in their role. Literature relevant to victim assistance programs is largely historical and descriptive, lacking information about advocates overall. Symbolic interactionism and victimology give a theoretical basis for how advocates understand their role. Interviews took place with nine advocates working in a prosecutor's office located in a New England State. Advocates discussed their experience in the field through descriptions of daily work, interaction with victims, and barriers facing their victim assistance program. Results showed that advocates have strong perceptions of their role in the criminal justice system and focus on making the criminal justice experience tolerable for victims, while keeping them involved and motivated. Advocates act as communicative liaisons between victims and other criminal justice professionals by informing and supporting victims. Advocates use their unique training experience to cope with barriers that affect their jobs and victim assistance programs as a whole. Some barriers such as funding and locating victims, led to policy implications for the study that propose increased funding and better methods for finding victims. Future research suggested the use of longitudinal or cross-sectional studies comparing multiple programs.


Clayton, R. Bruce


Sociology and Anthropology


Criminology and Criminal Justice | Social Work

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2009 Taryn O. Higgins