Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to pass a constitutional amendment through a constitutional convention guaranteeing victims the right to participate in the criminal justice process. The amendment is as follows:
"A victim of crime shall, as a matter of right be treated by agents of the state with dignity, respect and sensitivity during all phases of the criminal justice process. Such person shall be entitled to receive, from the perpetrator of the crime, financial compensation for any injury or loss caused by the perpetrator of the crime, and shall receive such other compensation as the state may provide. Before sentencing, the victim shall have the right to address the court regarding the impact which the perpetrator's conduct has had upon the victim."
- Article I, Section 23 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
The Public Safety Grant Administration Office has administered the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victims Assistance Program since 1985 when the program was first enacted by Congress. The Act is funded through fines paid by those convicted of violating federal laws. The VOCA program has the most restrictive regulations of all PSGAO-administered grant programs as funds are strictly intended to support direct services to victims of violent crime. The Act requires priority be given to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and other groups identified by the state as being "under-served" victims of violent crimes.
Originally established in 1986, the VOCA Advisory Committee consists of representatives from both the public and private sectors. The Committee meets throughout the year and works with the Public Safety Grant Administration Office to aid victims of crime in the state, to identify the needs of victims of crime, to set goals for distribution of federal dollars, establish procedures for applicants to submit grant requests and make recommendations for the funding of grant program. The Committee and Public Safety Grant Administration Office staff review progress of individual grantees toward stated goals.