United States Attorney Observes
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
SAVANNAH, GA - United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver announced that April 22, 2012, begins National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor crime victims and our nation’s progress in advancing their rights. This year’s theme—Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim—celebrates the vision behind that progress and the ideal of serving all victims of crime.
The vision that launched the victims’ rights movement emerged more than 30 years ago. Then—as now—crime victims endured physical and emotional wounds, costly financial burdens, an often hostile criminal justice system, and an alarming public tendency to blame them for the crimes against them. Victims were often excluded from courtrooms, disrespected by officials, and afforded few rights. They began organizing to confront these challenges and to promote fair, compassionate, and respectful responses to victims of crime.
Since the 1980s, the nation has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections, and services for victims of crime. Every state has enacted victims’ rights laws, and 32 states have constitutional victims’ rights amendments. All states have victim compensation funds, and more than 10,000 victim service agencies have been established throughout the country. The Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice, supports a range of programs for crime victims, and seeks to extend those services to those who are underserved.
Yet there is still so much to do. Victims’ rights are not universal and are often not enforced. Only a fraction of victims receive crime victim compensation, which is usually limited to victims of violent crime. More than 50 percent of crimes are not reported, and fewer than 20 percent of victims receive needed services. The victim services system is fragmented and uncoordinated, and agencies are struggling to keep their doors open in the face of budget cuts.
Victim advocates have not lost their resolve. “Our commitment to ‘extend the vision’ and ‘reach every victim’ will overcome every challenge that confronts us now,” said Joye E. Frost, Acting Director, Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. “The vision, determination, and passion for justice that inspired our history will help us transform the future for every victim of crime.
United States Attorney Ed Tarver stated, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is deeply committed to assisting victims of federal crimes, ensuring they are afforded their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, protecting them from further harm, and helping them reshape their futures. This week is a time to raise awareness about the rights and needs of crime victims, the challenges victims face in the recovery process, and the positive impact of those who provide services and support to victims.”
In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the United States Attorneys’ Offices for the Southern and Middle Districts of Georgia and the Laurens County District Attorney’s Office are cosponsoring training for service providers, first responders and law enforcement on identifying hidden victims. Topics presented during this training will include identity theft, human trafficking and internet crimes against children. The training will be held April 24th in Dublin, Georgia. For more information, please call (912) 201-2580.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia is also pleased to support events scheduled in Savannah, Georgia. As part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, the Savannah-Chatham Family Violence Council and Savannah Working Against Human Trafficking are sponsoring a workshop on recognizing and responding to sexually exploited children on April 23rd at Armstrong Atlantic State University. For more information, please call (912) 236-1401.