VVSRL Faculty Member Chosen as Site Coach

VVSRL faculty member chosen as Site Coach for Nebraska’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) project

Tara Richards, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (SCCJ), was tapped to serve as site coach for Nebraska’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) project. The JRI project is a by-product of legislation enacted in Nebraska in 2015, designed to reduce prison overcrowding, and safely and effectively expand the use of probation and parole supervision.

Nebraska’s JRI project focuses on developing guidelines for the Nebraska Board of Parole (NBOP) regarding the use of victim impact statements in the parole decision-making process, as well as facilitating better understanding of the parole and supervision processes for victims. Additionally, the project will support the creation of guidelines for field officers on victim and advocacy group engagement and provide information on victim impact for people on parole as well as victim services resources for parole clients.

In her role as site coach, Richards will serve as a subject matter expert in the areas of victimology and victim studies to support NBOP in their efforts. “As a coach it is my job to bring existing best practices to the table and to help guide NBOP stakeholders as they make decisions about what is going to work for Nebraska,” she explained.

According to Richards, the criminal justice system historically has not provided many opportunities for victims to have a voice. “Victims can provide impact statements at sentencing, but they don’t even have a right to be heard at their own trial,” Richards noted. “This project, developed and led by NBOP stakeholders, is a model example of how we can shift the criminal justice system’s culture in support of victims’ rights and inclusion,” she said. Read the full article from UNO SCCJ here.