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Melodee Hanes, Acting Deputy Administrator for Policy for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention US Department of Justice"Attorneys, 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."

Resource

Protecting Children of Domestic Violence Victims

National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse

Assessing Exposure to Psychological Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress in the Juvenile Justice Population, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2004

Biography of Melodee Hanes, Acting Deputy Administrator for Policy for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention US Department of Justice

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

 


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