Tara N. Richards, Ph.D. Named Site Coach for NJR Project
Tara N. Richards, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (SCCJ) as well as founder and head of the SCCJ’s new Victimology and Victim Studies Research Lab (VVSRL), was recently tapped to serve as site coach for Nebraska’s Justice Reinvestment (NJR) project. The NJR 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.
Expanding crime victim support services is an objective that Richards and others in the NJR work group are currently addressing. They are developing guidelines for the Nebraska Board of Parole (NBOP) to incorporate 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 work group is creating guidelines for field officers on victim and advocacy group engagement and providing information on victim impact for people on parole as well as victim services resources for parole clients.
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.
Richards went on to explain that the Nebraska Board of Parole and Division of Parole Supervision wants to better support crime victims. “The NBOP wants to be a national leader in developing best-practice guidelines for both talking to and hearing from crime victims and victim advocacy groups in the parole and supervision stages,” Richards said.
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.
UNOs School of Criminology and Criminal Justice has strong relationships with state agencies and non-profits that deal with crime, criminal justice issues and victim’s rights. Dr. Richards serving as site coach for this initiative is yet another example of faculty experts in the SCCJ supporting the needs of practitioner partners through research efforts.
Published April, 2021