and prosecutors in particular, have a critical role in ensuring
that children have the opportunity to experience both physical
and psychological safety by ensuring that a focus on the best interest
of the child is paramount in all prosecutorial decisions. Prosecutors
are in a uniquely situated to encounter and identify children who
have been exposed to violence. These children find their way into
a prosecutorís case often as victims of violent acts but, also
as witnesses, bystanders or relatives of those involved, whether
the victim of the defendant. When it is a child who is the victim
or witness, the prosecutor can seek additional protections and
intervention by requesting that the court include childrenís safety
and well-being as part of the orders and decisions.
These children should be offered the support of victim witness
advocates who can assist these them to resources and services,
often paid for from state victim service funds. Oftentimes children
who are bystanders or relatives are the ones who are overlooked
in terms of the impact the violence will have on their development,
safety and well-being. Prosecutors can play a very important role
in understanding the impact of the crime and violence on these
children. It is therefore critical that prosecutors and all professionals
in the legal system have training related to the impact of trauma
and violence on children - even when they are witnesses to violence - as
well as information about community resources can help ensure that
all cases involving children can have the best possible outcomes
within both a legal and community safety context."
Children of Domestic Violence Victims
Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse
Exposure to Psychological Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress in
the Juvenile Justice Population, National Child Traumatic
Stress Network, 2004
Melodee Hanes is the Acting Administrator in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Ms. Hanes previously served as Acting Deputy Administrator for Policy from June 2009, when she was appointed to the position by President Barack Obama, to January 2012.
Ms. Hanes' 30-year career in public service and law includes work as a deputy county attorney in the Yellowstone County (MT) Attorney’s Office, prosecuting child abuse, sexual assault, and homicide cases. She also served as an assistant county attorney in the Polk County (IA) Attorney's Office, prosecuting major felony crimes. Ms. Hanes prosecuted the first child endangerment case in Polk County under Iowa Code Chapter 726 and handled more than 100 child abuse prosecutions during her tenure. In addition, she developed and coordinated the Polk County Child Abuse Trauma Team and Child Death Review Team.
Ms. Hanes taught child abuse law and forensic medicine and law at Drake University Law School. She has lectured extensively and published in these areas of expertise. She also served on the faculty of the National District Attorneys Association's National Advocacy Center in Columbia, SC, and the Child Protection Training Academy in Des Moines, IA.
In 1991, then-State Senator Elaine Szymoniak (D–IA) appointed Ms. Hanes as chairperson of Iowa’s Special Infant Mortality Task Force, which led to the creation of the Infant Mortality Prevention Project through the state’s Department of Public Health. The project provided services and resources to the community with the objective of reducing the high rate of infant mortality in Polk County.
Before joining the Justice Department in 2009, Ms. Hanes served as state director and counsel in the office of U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D–MT).
Ms. Hanes earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Utah and a law degree from the Drake University Law School