Attorney General Eric Holder recognized nine individuals and one organization for outstanding work on behalf of crime victims in an awards ceremony hosted by the Department of Justice today.
The Attorney General’s annual victims’ service awards are presented as a prelude to the nation’s observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 18-April 24, 2010. This year’s theme - “Crime Victims’ Rights: Fairness. Dignity. Respect,” - highlights the importance of affording crime victims these rights and recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to this effort.
The award presentation, along with the Candlelight Observance held yesterday in Washington, D.C., was organized by the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and its Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). In addition to the Attorney General, others participating in the awards ceremony were Assistant Attorney General for OJP Laurie O. Robinson and Acting Director for OVC Joye E. Frost.
The recipients of today’s awards were nominated by their colleagues in the victim service and criminal justice fields. Their awards recognize their courageous responses in the aftermath of a crime, as well as their professional efforts to better serve the needs of victims with disabilities; to assist U.S. citizens victimized outside the United States; and to ensure that victims receive the compensation and other services available to them at the state and local level. The following awards were presented by the Attorney General:
National Crime Victim Service Award: Honors extraordinary efforts in direct service to crime victims.
Recipient: Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC), Portland, Ore., assists Americans who are survivors of domestic violence overseas. The center provides a continuum of services, including long-term case management, safety planning and relocation, legal assistance, professional counseling and assistance with basic needs.
Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services: Recognizes a program, organization, or individual that has helped to expand the reach of victims’ rights and services.
Recipient: Gael Strack, San Diego. for advocating for victims of domestic violence and their children. She co-founded the first Family Justice Center in San Diego, which integrates multiple critical services for domestic violence victims, including legal, medical and police services, along with counseling, daycare and a comforting environment. In addition, she has taught women, students and community leaders about the signs of domestic violence through her many co-authored books, articles, classes and trainings.
Recipient: Barri Rosenbluth, Austin, Texas, for her leadership in the innovative design, policy development, and community engagement related to youth victims of dating and sexual violence. She created and expanded the Austin, Texas-based Expect Respect program, which provides counseling and support groups in the Austin-area for K-12 youth hurt by dating and sexual violence. This program serves thousands of youth and adults each year, and has become a model that is nationally recognized for addressing and preventing dating and sexual violence.
Allied Professional Award: Recognizes an individual or organization outside the victim assistance field for services or contributions to the victims’ field.
Recipient: Joanne Archambault, Addy, Wash., for her dedication to ensure that crime survivors receive competent, compassionate care, and that dangerous predators are brought to justice. She served for 23 years as a law enforcement officer with the San Diego Police Department. Since retiring, she founded the nonprofit organization, End Violence Against Women International, and Sexual Assault Training & Investigations Inc., which helps thousands of multidisciplinary professionals stay current through electronic newsletters, training materials, and other resources available on www.mysati.com.
Recipient: Carolyn Morgan, Philadelphia. for being an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities, particularly those who have been victims of crime. Ms. Morgan, who is herself a person with a disability, has worked with individuals and groups on both the local and state level to build awareness, educate, and foster collaborations with first responders. She co-founded Self-Advocates United As 1, an advocacy group comprised of people with intellectual disabilities.
Volunteer for Victims Award: Honors individuals for their uncompensated efforts to reach out to victims.
Recipient: Kelly Jolkowski, Omaha, Neb., for assisting families of the missing, following her own experience of her 19-year old son who has been missing since 2001. She and her husband, Jim Jokowski, founded Project Jason, a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide families of the missing with knowledge, raise public awareness about missing loved ones, and try to affect state laws with regard to the manner in which missing persons cases are handled by law enforcement. In a short time, Project Jason has assisted thousands of families, by raising public awareness through the media, disseminating posters, and providing hundreds of referrals.
Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award: Honors an individual whose leadership, vision, and innovation results in significant changes to public policy and practice benefiting crime victims.
Recipient: Larry Tackman, Albuquerque, N.M., retired as a director of the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission, and has been a diligent and progressive manager of crime victim compensation, victim assistance programs, and victims’ rights in New Mexico. Mr. Tackman was instrumental in the formation of the annual Advocacy in Action Conference and the Basic Victim Advocacy Training in New Mexico, which allows for victim service providers and allied professionals to receive the education and training needed to support the state’s crime victims. In addition, as the first president of the National Association of Victims of Crime Act Assistance Administrators, he helped establish its mission to focus on the identification and replication of promising practices to improve administrative oversight of funding programs to aid crime victims.
Federal Service Award: Honors exceptional contributions and extraordinary impact on behalf of victims in Indian Country, on military installations, in national parks, or in other areas governed by federal jurisdiction.
Recipient: Marcia L. Rinker, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Washington, D.C., for serving on the District’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board and the D.C. Homicide Coalition to develop ways to strengthen the resources available for crime victims in the District of Columbia. Ms. Rinker is the only homicide advocate and provides support to more than 30 homicide prosecutors, in addition to constantly ensuring that victims are aware of their rights and receive necessary services.
Federal Service Award: Honors exceptional contributions and extraordinary impact on behalf of victims in Indian Country, on military installations, in national parks or in other areas governed by federal jurisdiction.
Recipient: U.S. Army Master Sgt. Verlean K. Brown, Deployed Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Sherwood, Ark., for implementing the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program in a combat
environment, and for establishing supportive relationship with the U. S. Air Force Sexual Assault Response Coordinators. She has assisted 100 service members and supervised and trained 200 victims’ advocates. In addition, MSG Brown has conducted more than 40 education and training classes for 2,000 soldiers, airmen, and civilians.
Special Courage Award: Recognizes extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of a crime or courageous act on behalf of a victim or potential victim.
Recipient: Michelle Corrao, Noblesville, Ind., was abducted 13 years ago at her own front door by three men. Kidnapped, raped and beaten unconscious, she was bound and thrown into a car trunk. She knew she would die, so she, with much difficulty removed her rings and bracelet and tucked them under the trunk carpet in hope that her body could eventually be identified. But from the terror and despair of the dark trunk came salvation in the face of off-duty Fort Wayne, Ind., Detective, Art Billingsley, who happened to make a stop when he saw some suspicious activity around the car. Ever since, Ms. Corrao was able to overcome her own victimization and has dedicated her career to share the extraordinary message of the profound impact that first responders have on victims to a broad audience including law enforcement, medical personnel, clergy, criminal justice students, prosecutors and government officials.
More information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Crime Victims Fund, and victim assistance and compensation programs is available at: www.ojp.gov.