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Book Chapter

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Over the last 40 years, advocates for crime victims have succeeded in enshrining victims’ rights in state constitutions and other enactments. These provisions show that a consensus has developed around the country on certain core victims’ rights. Included in the core are, among other things, the right to notice of court hearings, to attend court hearings, to be heard at appropriate court hearings, to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, to consideration of the victims’ safety during the process, and to restitution. The current challenge for the country is ensuring that these core rights are fully and effectively implemented and that victims have a means for enforcing these rights. Strengthened enforcement language in state constitutions and, ultimately, perhaps placing victims’ rights in the United States Constitution offer the best prospects for fully protecting crime victims’ interests in the criminal justice system.