Support Crime Victims by Observing National Crime Victims' Rights Week
Release Date: April 8, 2005
There is an old saying that goes, “adding insult to injury.” Unfortunately, as recently as the 1980s, that phrase was all too real for crime victims. A woman raped, a man stabbed, a child killed by a drunk driver … yet the victims’ voices were silent in the courtroom. Victims received little to no information on how the criminal justice system functioned. Protection, restitution, and victims’ assistance were not available. Only one state had a “victims’ bill of rights.” Now, there are over 32,000 federal and state statutes and 32 state-level constitutional amendments that define and protect victims’ rights. And today, every state has a “victims’ bill of rights.”
Crime in America has a devastating impact on victims, survivors, neighbors, and society as a whole. Crime in America continually threatens our sense of safety and security. And crime in America creates a universal sense of indignity with the realization that any of us, at any time, can be victimized by violence.
The week of April 10 through April 16 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. It is a time to pay tribute to victims, survivors, and those who selflessly serve them, and to reflect upon the many accomplishments that have made victims’ rights and services a reality in our nation. It is a time to recognize this year’s theme that “Justice is not served until crime victims are”. In fact, this year is the 25th Anniversary of our nation commemorating victims’ rights week.
When President Ronald Reagan passed away last year, many aspects of his life were recognized and celebrated. One of his major achievements came in 1981 when he proclaimed the first National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and established the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime. President Reagan explained: “Our commitment to criminal justice goes far deeper than our desire to punish the guilty or to deter those considering a lawless course. Our laws represent the collective moral voice of a free society – a voice that articulates our shared beliefs about the roles of civilized behavior. Both the observance of Crime Victims’ Rights Week and the creation of this Task Force are entirely consistent with principles that lie at the heart of our nation’s belief in freedom under law.”
Protecting victims’ rights and promoting justice are goals of the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office and the law enforcement agencies in this county. We are fortunate to have a number of support groups and victim advocacy agencies that share our goals: Domestic Violence Advocacy Program, Domestic Violence/Rape Crisis Services, MADD, SADD, The Center for the Family, The Prevention Council, CAPTAIN, Victim Impact Panels, The Kathleen A. Campion Foundation, Parents of Murdered Children, and the Center for Hope, just to name a few. Victims in Saratoga County are also assisted through the criminal justice process by two well-trained, experienced Crime Victim Advocates in the D.A.’s Office: Beverly LaBarge and Vicki Merola. Victims may contact them for help by calling 885-2263.
Supporting crime victims’ rights is not just a function of government: it is a responsibility of the community. Please show your support by attending the Annual Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Crime on Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m., at the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church on Circular Street in Saratoga Springs. For more information about the vigil or other events during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, call the Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims’ Rights at (518)270-4454. In President Reagan’s words, “It is time all of us paid greater heed to the plight of victims.”
Very truly yours,
James A. Murphy, III
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