Contact: Meg Garvin, Executive Director National Crime Victim Law Institute 503.768.6819 firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release June 2, 2014 Senate Bill 2301—the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Act of 2014—may finally afford victims the restitution they deserve. The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) has long fought to secure full and timely restitution for victims of child abuse and rape imagery (aka child pornography). Among our efforts has been filing of amicus curiae briefs in trial and appellate courts since 2009; most recently we filed in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Paroline v. United States. We have consistently argued that despite the broad remedial mandate of federal restitution statutes, courts across the country are failing to award full restitution not because they find that victims are not harmed (in fact there is uniformity that victims are harmed by production, distribution, and possession) but because they cannot tie a particular victim harm to the particular conduct of an individual defendant. We have argued that the courts’ approach is wrong as a matter of law, misunderstands the nature of a victim’s harm, and erects insurmountable hurdles to a victim’s full recovery. In January 2014 when the United States Supreme Court heard Paroline v. United States we were hopeful that victims would finally have some justice. Unfortunately when the Court issued its decision this Spring it was one of mixed messages. The Court clearly acknowledged that these victims are significantly harmed by the viewing of and possession of the images and have a right to mandatory restitution; yet in the very next breath the Court left determination of the amount of recovery to the very trial courts that have issued awards ranging from zero dollars to full restitution. Fortunately, the Court made clear that some restitution must be awarded; unfortunately, that’s where the Court left it – some restitution. Thus, after years of litigation victims such as Amy and Vicky are still guessing how much restitution they will receive. The practical impact of the Court’s decision is that victims who are daily navigating the traumatic impacts of their victimization must also continue to litigate – for years and even decades ‐ to secure full restitution. Crime victims – and federal district courts – deserve clear guidance on this issue. The Supreme Court did not provide that guidance but Congress can. Senate bill 2301 – the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Act of 2014 – would provide guidance. The bill makes clear that victims must be fully compensated for their losses, including psychological counseling and future lost income. It makes clear exactly what restitution must be awarded when a victim is harmed by multiple criminals. It sets out reasonable, minimum amounts of restitution that perpetrators must pay while ensuring that victims cannot double recover for their losses. There can be no dispute ‐ perpetrators not victims should bear the financial burden of criminal conduct. Yet today this is not the situation for victims such as Amy and Vicky. Congress must act to remedy this. Founded in 2000, the National Crime Victim Law Institute is a national resource for crime victim lawyers and advocates to support the assertion and enforcement of victims’ rights in criminal and civil processes. NCVLI continues to be the only national organization whose mission is focused on enforcement of victims’ rights in the courts.