District Attorney Rosemary Greene’s Victim Assistance office will commemorate the nation’s progress in advancing victims’ rights by honoring various community agencies who serve crime victims and champion expanded support and services to communities affected by crime, according to a press release from Cherokee Judicial Circuit Victim Assistance Unit. This year’s theme — 30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice — presents a perfect opportunity to salute local agencies and their long-term commitment to aiding crime victims.
Locally, the unit will recognize Crime Victim’s Rights Week during a service at noon Wednesday at the Crime Victims Monument at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center. The event will honor crime victims and increase public awareness, and includes guest speaker Sandy Templeton, founding director of the Victim Assistance Unit; a live dove release; vocal performance; and proclamation signing.
Only 30 years ago, crime victims had virtually no rights and no assistance. The criminal justice system often seemed indifferent to their needs. Victims were commonly excluded from courtrooms and denied the chance to speak at sentencing. They had no access to victim compensation or services to help rebuild their lives. There were few avenues to deal with their emotional and physical wounds. Victims were on their own to recover their health, security and dignity.
Today, the nation has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections and services for victims. Every state has enacted victims’ rights laws and all have victim compensation programs. More than 10,000 victim service agencies now help people throughout the country.
In 1984, Congress passed the bipartisan Victims of Crime Act, which created a national fund to ease victims’ suffering. Financed not by taxpayers but by fines and penalties paid by offenders, the Crime Victims Fund supports victim services, such as rape crisis and domestic violence programs and victim compensation programs that pay many of victims’ out-of-pocket expenses from the crime, such as counseling, funeral expenses and lost wages.
Victims’ rights advocates have scored remarkable victories over the last 30 years, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
“As we move forward, we are increasingly expanding our reach to previously underserved victim populations, including victims of color, American Indians and Alaska Natives, adults molested as children, victims of elder abuse, and LGBTQ victims,” the release stated. “Over three decades, VOCA pioneered support efforts for victims of once-hidden crimes, like domestic and sexual violence. Today, we are shining a spotlight on other abuses that have long been unreported and often not prosecuted — hate and bias crimes, bullying, and sex and labor trafficking, among others.”
For additional information about 2014 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week or to learn how to volunteer to serve crime victims in the community, contact the Bartow County Victim Assistance office at 770-387-5106 or visit the Bartow County Government website at www.bartowga.org.
What: “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice” recognition of Crime Victim’s Rights Week
When: Wednesday, April 9, at noon
Where: Crime Victims Monument at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 W. Cherokee Ave., Cartersville
Info: For additional information, contact the Bartow County Victim Assistance office at 770-387-5106 or visit the Bartow County Government website at www.bartowga.org.