"Victims' Rights: America's Values"
Las Vegas, Nev. - During the week of April 18 through April 24, 2004, crime victims and survivors, victim service providers, criminal justice professionals, and community volunteers will join together across America to commemorate the 24th anniversary of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada. This year's theme, "Victims' Rights: America's Values," helps us recognize that when we value equal rights for all Americans, safety and protection for those who have been victimized, and justice for all, we value crime victims' rights and services.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Crime Victims Fund established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) which, over the past two decades, has provided over $5.5 billion for victim assistance programs that offer a wide range of services to crime victims, and victim compensation that helps victims cope with the financial impact of crime. The Crime Victims Fund or "VOCA Fund" is not derived from taxpayers' dollars, but rather from federal criminal fines, forfeited appearance bonds, and special assessments on federal convictions. Monies from the VOCA Fund are re-distributed to the states in the form of grants. Nevada's VOCA Fund allocation for federal Fiscal Year 2004 is approximately $4.5 million. Nevada's VOCA funds are being utilized to pay for expenses incurred by victims, such as for mental health treatment, funeral/burial, economic support, etc., and to fund services such as information and referral; criminal justice support or advocacy; crisis counseling, and shelters/safehouses, etc.
Since 1972, the victim assistance field has worked to ensure that crime victims are treated with compassion and respect; that they are informed of their rights and involved in justice processes as more than just witnesses; and that they are aware of victim assistance and compensation programs that can help them cope with the aftermath of crime. Over 30,000 laws have been passed at the federal, state and local levels that promote victims' rights and services, including constitutional amendments in 33 states, including Nevada. The State of Nevada Constitutional Amendment for Victims' Rights was passed in November 1996 by 74 percent of the voters. It provides that victims, upon written request, be supplied with information regarding the status or disposition of a criminal proceeding; be allowed to be present at all public hearings involving the critical stages of a criminal proceeding; and be provided an opportunity to be heard at sentencing or release hearings. And today, there are over 10,000 organizations that provide help and hope to victims of crime in our community, and throughout our criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Here in Las Vegas, a number of activities have been planned to recognize victims of crime and those who serve them during 2004 National Crime Victims' Rights Week, including a Rainbow of Remembrance at the Clark County Courthouse on Monday, April 19th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; the Agency Resource Fair at the Family Court Atrium at 601 North Pecos on Tuesday, April 20th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Senior Crime Prevention Awareness Day at the Cannery at 2121 East Craig Road on Wednesday, April 21st from11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; and a Domestic Violence Workshop entitled "Teen Dating Violence" at the Clark County Flamingo Library on Thursday, April 22nd from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. More information on scheduled Victims' Rights Week activities can be obtained from the Community Coalition for Victims' Rights at (702) 455-4204.
John W. Gillis, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice, encourages all people in America who share the core value of equal justice for all Americans to join in the commemoration of 2004 National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
"Nobody asks to be victimized by violence and, when a crime occurs, victims need to be aware that they have rights within our justice system and many services to help them cope with the victimization," Gillis explained. "When we are informed and aware of victims' rights and services, we are committed to shared values of justice for all, and assistance and support for our family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors who are hurt by crime."
"The Crime Victims Fund that is administered by OVC has, for 20 years, had a significant impact on providing quality victim services and assistance to victims to help them understand their rights and access available services. During 2004 National Crime Victims' Rights Week and throughout the year, I ask that we all support the vital work of victim service providers and justice professionals in our communities and nation that offer help and hope to victims and survivors of crime," he concluded.
Members of our community are encouraged to join together during 2004 National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and honor not only victims of crime, but also those who bring honor to victims on a daily basis.
For additional information about 2004 National Crime Victims' Rights Week, please contact Vickie Dillon, Victim/Witness Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney's Office at (702) 388-6336, or the Community Coalition for Victims' Rights at (702) 455-4204.
If you or someone you know has been hurt by crime, please contact the Victims of Crime Program at 486-2740 for information or assistance.