Timely Access To Public Records Important For Crime Victims Too

We don’t tend to think of public records requests as an important tool for helping crime victims, but maybe we should.

A recent Cleveland.com report on Ohio’s new public records complaint system revealed that requests from those representing victims often are ignored. Chris Woeste, an attorney with the Crime Victim Justice Center, told the newspaper for their story that his group had three requests with Cleveland police go unfilled.

“The refusal to timely provide public records hinders OCVJC’s ability to help crime victims in the criminal justice system,” Woeste said. “The excessive delays are revictimizing and preventing victims from getting justice.”

Meanwhile, in Columbus, crime victims at The Ohio State University have also had problems getting information from the flagship university about the punishment doled out to attackers, according to a recent Columbus Dispatch report. The newspaper found that in one case an assault victim was told he had no right to information about the disciplinary outcome in his case. Although a university spokesman said that information was withheld mistakenly, the incident serves as a painful reminder that crime victims are frequently blocked in their quest to get basic information about their own cases.