6               ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO


         8               ON VICTIMS OF FEDERAL CRIME


        10                Monday, February 10, 1997








        18                   Omni Shoreham Hotel

        19                2500 Calvert Street, N.W.

        20                    Washington, D.C.




         1                  P R O C E E D I N G S

         2               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Thank you,

         3     Kathryn.  But I am the one to thank you and

         4     your colleagues across the country.  You do so

         5     much for so many, and make such a great

         6     difference for us all.

         7               This is a particularly poignant

         8     moment for me to be addressing you, because I

         9     arrived a little bit late, having come from the

        10     funeral of Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson,

        11     who was shot as he waited at a light in his

        12     patrol car this past week.

        13               I was reminded in the church, and

        14     afterwards in the most poignant terms possible,

        15     how important your work is to help people begin

        16     to understand, to help them come together, to

        17     help them begin to heal.  And that's the reason

        18     this conference is so important.

        19               It's truly a pioneering conference.

        20     I'd like to thank the people who have made it

        21     possible.  Marlene, thank you not only for this

        22     conference, but for all you do for us, to help


         1     us to know the way to really reach out to

         2     victims and to make a difference.

         3               And to John Stein and the staff of

         4     the National Organization for Victim

         5     Assistance, thank you for your hard work in

         6     creating a week filled with the voices of

         7     experts, leaders in their field.  But, also,

         8     and more importantly, the voices of victims who

         9     remind us why we work so hard at what we do.

        10               I thank Eileen Adams and her

        11     wonderful staff at the Office for Victims of

        12     Crime for their vision in convening this

        13     symposium for victim witness coordinators in

        14     the Federal system.

        15               I'd like to talk to you about the

        16     themes that you will hear echoed over the days

        17     of this symposium, and touch upon a few that

        18     are very close to my heart:  What we and the

        19     justice system do for victims, how we do it,

        20     and how we can do our work even better than we

        21     are.

        22               Many who think about justice think


         1     only of the dramatic events of the criminal

         2     justice system:  The siren of the police car

         3     that passes, or a police officer making an

         4     arrest, or the conviction of someone in court.

         5               But justice has a far broader meaning

         6     for us all.  It encompasses healing.  Everyone

         7     here represents both aspects of justice.  You

         8     are healers and you are the center of the

         9     criminal justice system.  You humanize for many

        10     victims the terribly confusing, and the very

        11     difficult process of seeking justice.

        12               And you are the critical link to

        13     victims' services without which many victims

        14     would have no opportunity to heal whatsoever.

        15     As you will learn over the next five days,

        16     federal laws and the Attorney General's

        17     guidelines for victim and witness assistance

        18     hold all of federal law enforcement, each

        19     federal victim witness coordinator, and federal

        20     prosecutors to a very high standard in our

        21     treatment of victims.

        22               But beyond the requirements set forth


         1     in the law, beyond the guidelines, I look to

         2     something more important.  The standard I use

         3     is a personal one, and based on deep conviction

         4     that each victim of crime deserves to be

         5     treated with the utmost respect and the utmost

         6     dignity.

         7               I put it this way, let us treat every

         8     victim of crime as we would want our child, our

         9     mother, or even ourselves to be treated.  When

        10     it is a particularly frustrating time, and they

        11     are not understanding, just imagine what it

        12     would be like if your mother sat in that chair

        13     and didn't understand what was going on.

        14               When the processes seem so long and

        15     involved and complicated, remember what it

        16     would be like for your child at age four to be

        17     sitting there waiting to be deposed, and do

        18     everything you can to reach out and make what

        19     we do personal and human in every respect.

        20               Work hard to understand what it is

        21     like to be a victim, and see the criminal

        22     justice system through their eyes.


         1               I understand that tomorrow morning

         2     you will hear from a panel of remarkable

         3     victims, victims who have courage:  A woman

         4     whose husband was murdered in the Oklahoma City

         5     bombing, a bank teller who was the victim of

         6     numerous bank robberies, and a minister whose

         7     church and congregation were the victims of

         8     racially motivated arson.

         9               Listen to these victims, and to all

        10     victims with an eye toward how you can be even

        11     more responsive to their concerns.  In the 15

        12     years I was a prosecutor in Dade County, I

        13     learned so much from all those who walked

        14     through my door.

        15               I learned to ask them questions, and

        16     to find out how I could have done a better job,

        17     even after the fact.  Don't be afraid to ask

        18     questions, both at this symposium and in your

        19     work with victims for the years to come.

        20               I believe that all of us share the

        21     same goal in our work within the criminal

        22     justice system.  We want to create a seamless


         1     web of services to help victims heal from the

         2     very moment the crime is committed throughout

         3     the criminal justice process and beyond.

         4               That police officer who responds, the

         5     first responder can so often be the magic that

         6     makes the difference in the person's ability to

         7     cope with the trauma of the crime and to deal

         8     with all that comes after.

         9               Key strands of that web must include

        10     access to immediate trauma and emergency

        11     response, short- and long-term psychological

        12     counselling, and shelter as well as advocacy

        13     throughout the criminal, tribal, military and

        14     juvenile justice systems.

        15               Don't discount that short-term

        16     counselling.  I have been told again and again

        17     by so many that that short-term support, that

        18     short-term help made all the difference.

        19               Crime victims should be safe

        20     throughout the process and should have access

        21     to diverse sources of financial recovery,

        22     including emergency financial assistance, crime


         1     victim compensation, restitution and civil

         2     legal remedies.

         3               In addition to the victims

         4     themselves, we must recognize that each person,

         5     each victim, has a parent, a child, a community

         6     that shares in the victimization.  We must

         7     learn to help all of them heal.

         8               Our own Department of Justice is

         9     working to study and develop community justice

        10     models that will integrate the victim,

        11     sometimes the offender, and the community in

        12     our response to crime and in our effort to heal

        13     the harm that affects us all when violent crime

        14     strikes.

        15               As with so many other important work,

        16     and so much other important work in this field,

        17     victims themselves are helping to lead the way.

        18               When I was in San Diego two weeks

        19     ago, speaking at the Indian Nation's

        20     Conference, I had the special privilege of

        21     meeting two very extraordinary individuals,

        22     Azeem Kamezia (phonetic) and Place Felix


         1     (phonetic).

         2               These men have turned a devastating

         3     personal tragedy into a positive force for

         4     change in their community.  Both are victims in

         5     a way of a gang-slaying, but each was on the

         6     opposite side of the gun.

         7               Azeem's son was murdered while

         8     delivering pizzas by Place's 14-year-old

         9     grandson, a gang member.  The grandson was

        10     convicted, and he was sentenced to 25 years to

        11     life.

        12               In a truly rare event, the caretakers

        13     of a murder victim and the offender recognize

        14     that their whole community was victimized by

        15     the violence that had shattered their lives.

        16               They founded the Teric Kamezia

        17     Foundation, dedicated to preventing similar

        18     crimes through educational programs in the

        19     schools.  In these victim-impact forums,

        20     students interact with Mr. Kamezia and Mr.

        21     Felix and ex-gang members who can talk frankly

        22     about the choices they made, and their


         1     experiences in jail.

         2               These panels have made a lasting

         3     impact on the lives of children who have seen

         4     them, and have helped provide guidance to

         5     youths on how to avoid the violence that

         6     surrounds them so tragically every day.

         7               One elementary school student wrote,

         8     after listening to Azeem and Place, "When you

         9     guys came to our school, it made me think a

        10     lot, like about peer pressure.  Some of my

        11     friends try to pressure me into doing things I

        12     don't want to do.

        13               "Now I'm going to make sure I know

        14     who I can turn to for help.  I'm going to make

        15     the right choices for my future.  I will not

        16     try to use violence for anything."

        17               But one session will not be enough.

        18     We must all participate in helping a community

        19     heal from the violence that riddles it too

        20     often.  Prevention programs such as

        21     school-based victim-impact classes and after

        22     school programs that give kids something to say


         1     yes to, are a critical part of the Justice

         2     Department's program to assist communities to

         3     overcome the violence that victimizes us all.

         4               You know from your experiences that

         5     many victims tell us that, if they could have

         6     one wish it would have been to have prevented

         7     the crime in the first place.  That is why we

         8     have so strongly supported the use of federal

         9     funds for prevention programs.

        10               What many parents who have lost their

        11     children to gang violence recognize is that for

        12     the safety, the health and the education of

        13     each child we must be concerned about the

        14     safety, health and education of all children.

        15               Across America and many different

        16     communities, parents like Azeem who have lost

        17     their kids to gang violence are devoting their

        18     lives to helping other children.  They deserve

        19     our highest respect and support.

        20               Just a little over an hour ago I

        21     heard the Chief of Police of the District of

        22     Columbia talk about what Brian Gibson had meant


         1     to that force, what a splendid police officer

         2     he was, and how important it was that we reach

         3     out to his family and help them begin to heal.

         4               But he also brought that church to a

         5     real emotional feeling when he said, "but we

         6     have got to make sure that we look to the

         7     future, and now reach out and establish youth

         8     centers in every sector of this community so

         9     that we can give our children a strong and

        10     positive future, and keep them from being the

        11     ones five and ten years from now who will pull

        12     the trigger again."

        13               In addition to these remarkable

        14     individuals who have worked so hard, we see all

        15     around us communities working in partnerships

        16     to help heal the wounds of crime.

        17               A good example is the wonderful work

        18     being done by the National Council of Black

        19     Churches to respond to the wave of hate and

        20     bias crimes that we have seen in our country,

        21     from the plague of African-American church

        22     burnings to the sobering figures on reported


         1     incidents of hate crime throughout our

         2     nation -- close to 8,000 in 1995 alone.

         3               We have developed a curriculum to

         4     reach our young people, a guide for teachers to

         5     engage school-aged children in important

         6     discussions about tolerance, tolerance for each

         7     of the unique, and valuable pieces of the quilt

         8     of races, sexual orientations and cultures that

         9     make up this wonderful nation.

        10               Our own Office for Victims of Crime

        11     is working to train law enforcement agencies to

        12     identify and respond effectively to victims of

        13     hate and bias crimes.  Together we can make a

        14     difference.  Haters are cowards.  They

        15     oftentimes back down when confronted.

        16               We must come together and speak out

        17     against that which sometimes attempts to divide

        18     us.  We have also seen other wonderful examples

        19     of community partnerships working to curb gang

        20     violence.  One is Teens On Target in Los

        21     Angeles and Oakland, California.

        22               Public and private agencies are


         1     working together to organize gunshot survivors,

         2     victims of gang violence to promote public

         3     awareness and violence prevention.

         4               These teenage victims, many of whom

         5     are in wheelchairs, speak to thousands of

         6     school children every year, encouraging them

         7     not to seek revenge, but rather to find

         8     nonviolent alternatives to conflict.

         9               They also intervene with hospitalized

        10     gang members, urging them not to retaliate.

        11     Every action such as these young people follow

        12     can make a difference.  Each of us can make a

        13     difference if we reach out to victims and help

        14     them begin to heal and help the community heal

        15     as well.

        16               It has been a great privilege for me

        17     to work on victim issues.  But it is a labor of

        18     love.  We are all part of an exciting time.

        19     And we have seen some important accomplishments

        20     that benefit crime victims in many significant

        21     ways.  Many, I am proud to say, have come

        22     during the last four years.


         1               The core of the criminal justice

         2     system, the laws that regulate it, have

         3     provided new rights for victims of crime.

         4     President Clinton has been at the forefront of

         5     this work.  He has been consistent and

         6     absolutely unwavering in his efforts to fight

         7     violent crime and to focus on the needs of

         8     victims.

         9               From the time I first met with him,

        10     which would have been four years ago yesterday

        11     in the oval office, when he talked to me about

        12     whether I should be Attorney General, he spoke

        13     then about victims and what work we had done in

        14     Dade County.

        15               He spoke of his commitment to

        16     ensuring victim's rights, and he asked me what

        17     we could do to do it better.  From the Crime

        18     Bill to the Brady Bill to the Antiterrorism

        19     Bill, he has constantly strived to make sure

        20     that the voices of victims are heard in real

        21     and solid legislation.

        22               With the strong support of the


         1     Administration, and the power voices of crime

         2     victims such as Jim and Sarah Brady, the Brady

         3     Bill was passed requiring a waiting period for

         4     the purchase of handguns.

         5               In the first year of its existence,

         6     the Brady Bill helped to deter more than 60,000

         7     convicted felons from having a handgun.

         8               The President also strongly supported

         9     passage of the Loutenberg Amendment, which for

        10     the first time took guns out of the hands of

        11     people convicted of domestic violence

        12     misdemeanors.

        13               Countless survivors of domestic

        14     violence created coalitions across the nation

        15     and worked with the Administration to secure

        16     passage of the landmark Violence Against Women

        17     Act.

        18               Part of the 1994 Crime Act, VAWA,

        19     authorized $1.6 billion to support a national

        20     domestic violence hot line, police prosecution

        21     and victim services initiatives at the local

        22     level, and important research in this vital and


         1     critical area.

         2               The 1994 Crime Act also expands the

         3     rights of and protections for victims in our

         4     criminal justice system by providing sexual

         5     assault victims with counselling and payment

         6     for testing for sexually transmitted diseases,

         7     including HIV, by requiring interstate

         8     enforcement of protection orders and, through

         9     the Jacob Weaterling Act, by encouraging state

        10     establishment of sex offender registers.

        11               The Voice of Megan Conca, a

        12     7-year-old victim who was sexually assaulted

        13     and murdered in 1994 by a twice-convicted sex

        14     offender, and the voice of a staunch victim

        15     advocate from Texas, Pam Lynchner, who perished

        16     in the TWA flight 800 disaster, are

        17     memorialized in 1996 Amendments to the sex

        18     offender registry law.

        19               Megan's law, which bears the name of

        20     one child but was passed to protect every child

        21     in this country, encourages states to notify

        22     communities when convicted sexual offenders are


         1     released into their midst.

         2               Under the Pam Lynchner Act, I will be

         3     establishing, through the FBI, a nationwide

         4     database to track registered sex offenders

         5     wherever they may move in our country.  And in

         6     states that do not have sufficient registration

         7     systems, the FBI will be responsible for sexual

         8     offender registration and community

         9     notification.

        10               In 1996 we also obtained passage of

        11     the Antiterrorism Act which provided $1 million

        12     in funding to strengthen antiterrorism efforts,

        13     made restitution mandatory in violent crime

        14     cases, and expanded the compensation and

        15     assistance services for victims of terrorism,

        16     both home and abroad, including victims in the

        17     military.

        18               As a result of this act, the Office

        19     for Victims of Crime has been able to provide

        20     substantial assistance to the victims of the

        21     tragic bombing on Oklahoma City, providing

        22     funds for additional victim witness staff in


         1     U.S. Attorney Offices, safe havens for victims

         2     in both Denver, where the trials where will be

         3     held, and in Oklahoma City, where many victims

         4     will review the trial over closed-circuit

         5     television, and crisis counselling for victims

         6     in both cities throughout the trial.

         7               In addition to working hard for these

         8     legislative changes, this administration has

         9     seen unparalleled growth in the crime victim's

        10     fund, which is administered by the Office for

        11     Victims of Crime.

        12               This fund supports state compensation

        13     programs and about 2,500 victim services

        14     programs, such as battered women shelters, rape

        15     treatment centers, children's advocacy centers,

        16     and services to victims based in police and

        17     prosecutor's offices.

        18               These are among the more than 10,000

        19     victim services programs nationwide to which

        20     you can refer victims for crucial services.  In

        21     the first four years of this administration,

        22     deposits in the fund exceeded $1 billion, more


         1     than was deposited in the preceding 8-year life

         2     of the fund.

         3               Over $500 million was deposited last

         4     year alone.  Since over 90 percent of these

         5     funds are distributed to states, this means

         6     that local victim assistance agencies will

         7     receive three times the amount of funds

         8     distributed previously.

         9               With this additional money, states

        10     have an unprecedented opportunity to expand

        11     programs into many of the underserved areas of

        12     our country, such as rural areas and Indian

        13     country, as well as to underserved victims,

        14     including victims of gang violence and hate and

        15     bias crimes.

        16               As you know, deposits to the fund are

        17     the product of the hard work of many of your

        18     colleagues.  They are the results of criminal

        19     fines, penalty assessments and forfeited bail

        20     bonds paid by federal criminal defendants, and

        21     collected by the U.S. Attorneys, the U.S.

        22     Courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.


         1               And without victims actively

         2     participating in the trial process, we could

         3     not have the convictions that result in these

         4     fines.  We have made great strides in improving

         5     the criminal justice system's treatment of

         6     crime victims.

         7               But we have an awful lot more to do

         8     because, even in some of the major cities of

         9     this country, there are small children who do

        10     not have a rape treatment center that knows how

        11     to work with children in a sensitive,

        12     thoughtful manner.

        13               We still do not have people trained

        14     in how to explain the criminal justice system

        15     in ways that people can understand and

        16     appreciate.  We have so very much more to do.

        17               One of the keys to what we have to

        18     do, though, is to get a victims' rights

        19     amendment to the Constitution of the United

        20     States passed.  There is now strong bipartisan

        21     support for this effort.

        22               A victim's bill of rights, once a


         1     novel idea, is now a reality in most every

         2     state.

         3               In over half of our states, my own

         4     state of Florida included, have amended their

         5     state constitutions to ensure these crucial

         6     rights.  But as I and the President recognized

         7     when he stated his strong support for this

         8     amendment last year, and in last week's State

         9     of the Union Address, there is still no

        10     consistency in the implementation of victims'

        11     rights nationwide, and no guarantee of crucial

        12     services for every crime victim.

        13               Some have questioned the need for a

        14     victims' rights constitutional amendment.  And

        15     I, like the President, certainly do not support

        16     amending the Constitution lightly.  But I have

        17     long been an advocate for treating victims with

        18     dignity and with respect.

        19               After carefully reviewing the issue

        20     of a federal constitutional amendment with

        21     lawyers in the Department of Justice, it is

        22     clear to me that victims' rights should be


         1     secured by the United States Constitution.

         2               The amendment should address crime

         3     victims rights to be informed of, and to be not

         4     excluded from public court proceedings; the

         5     right to be notified of major case events and

         6     the status of the offender; the right to be

         7     heard and present at the Court about release

         8     from custody, sentencing and pleas; the right

         9     to be heard by the Parole Board when it

        10     considers an offender's release; and the right

        11     to appropriate restitution.

        12               What victims want is a voice, not a

        13     veto in our criminal justice system.  For too

        14     long, victims have watched a court process

        15     unfold.  They have watched meticulous attention

        16     given to the rights of defendants.  They have

        17     asked for a voice, an opportunity to be heard,

        18     to know what was going on that could give real

        19     meaning to their participation.

        20               We must ensure that.

        21               Today victims' rights vary

        22     significantly from state to state.  The federal


         1     adult and juvenile justice systems in the

         2     military all provide different rights for

         3     victims.  Fundamental rights for victims should

         4     apply in every form.

         5               The Department of Justice is working

         6     with all involved to craft suitable language

         7     for such an amendment.  We want to develop the

         8     most effective language possible to secure the

         9     rights of victims, while being careful, as the

        10     President cautioned, not to hamper the ability

        11     of criminal investigators and prosecutors to do

        12     their job, or to inadvertently provide

        13     defendants and convicted offenders ways to

        14     cripple the criminal justice process.

        15               Even if we succeed in securing a

        16     constitutional amendment, we have to do more.

        17     I feel very strongly about this, because I

        18     participated in the passage of the

        19     Constitutional amendment in Florida.  But then

        20     I saw, as I have on other occasions, that we

        21     must make the words on that paper real.

        22               We will have to continue our efforts


         1     in Congress and in our state legislatures to

         2     ensure funding to guarantee that those rights

         3     are enforced and that services are provided.

         4     That is our work, your work and my work, to

         5     ensure the laws we enact have life and meaning

         6     for victims of crime.

         7               And we have seen such great

         8     creativity in the work that you all do to make

         9     sure that our laws are a reality.

        10               Across America police and prosecutors

        11     are building partnerships, and taking policing,

        12     prosecution and corrections out in the

        13     community to hear and respond to the voices of

        14     victims and other representatives of the

        15     community.

        16               In the District of Columbia, for

        17     example, United States Attorney Eric Holder has

        18     set up the first community prosecution unit.

        19     Prosecutors are working out of the local

        20     precinct.  They attend neighborhood meetings.

        21     They get to know the people in their community.

        22               Community prosecution and policing,


         1     which put criminal justice officials in

         2     constant touch with the people they serve, help

         3     prosecutors and police respond to the major

         4     concerns in the community about crime, and the

         5     major concerns of victims who now have an

         6     opportunity to see the people who represent

         7     them in their own community.

         8               And these programs increase the

         9     community's trust and cooperation with criminal

        10     justice officials.  Partnerships like these

        11     draw on our nation's strong sense of community.

        12     We have seen how the country responds in times

        13     of great crisis.  The tragic bombing in

        14     Oklahoma City illustrated this response with

        15     pictures of horror, but of magnificent heroism.

        16               The Office for Victims of Crime

        17     immediately funded three crisis response teams,

        18     which were organized by the National

        19     Organization for Victim Assistance, to debrief

        20     hundreds of school children, teachers and

        21     emergency workers.

        22               State and federal resources came


         1     together as never before, and to set up a

         2     standard of coordination, cooperation and

         3     partnership that we must strive to emulate in

         4     all that we do.  Foreign governments

         5     participated.  Turkey and Japan each donated

         6     $10,000.

         7               Oklahoma school children received

         8     over 400,000 letters from around the world.

         9     When the case proceedings were moved to

        10     Colorado, hundreds of citizens there offered

        11     their homes, food and transportation to victims

        12     who wanted to attend the trial.

        13               But that wouldn't have been possible

        14     if it had not been for some very caring people

        15     on the ground in Oklahoma who had been touched

        16     by the tragedy.  But people in the United

        17     States Attorney's office, law enforcement

        18     agencies, rallied round, worked countless hours

        19     into the night, seven days a week, never giving

        20     up, trying to find family members, trying to

        21     keep people informed.

        22               So much of the response in Oklahoma


         1     City was due to some very dedicated, wonderful

         2     people who worked for the Federal Government

         3     and who deserve the highest accolades that we

         4     can possibly give to public servants.  Their

         5     example is an example for us all.

         6               We can be the catalyst for these

         7     partnerships.  You are the fulcrum of the

         8     victim-centered justice system.  We know that

         9     we're doing something right when you hear

        10     victims write a thank you letter like that and

        11     we see tangible changes in the crime rate.  We

        12     think we must be doing something right.

        13               We watch crime go down.  We can take

        14     pride in our work.  But we cannot become

        15     complacent.  It is never a good idea to rest

        16     simply on one's laurels.  They get rather dry

        17     and scratchy after awhile anyway.

        18               Rather, we must look for new

        19     opportunities, better ways to serve, how we can

        20     do more with less, how we can make sure that

        21     last victim, or that last survivor, is

        22     contacted.


         1               Whether we can have that last bit of

         2     energy at 8:00 at night after we've been unable

         3     to reach a victim for three days running, to

         4     make that last call to make sure that they are

         5     okay and that they have been able to find

         6     transportation to get them to the service that

         7     we provided, that last extra step makes all the

         8     difference in the world.

         9               The President has directed me to take

        10     all necessary steps to provide full victim

        11     participation in federal criminal proceedings,

        12     to hold the federal system to a higher standard

        13     of victim's rights than ever before.

        14               An important part of his directive is

        15     taking place here.

        16               All federal agencies whose missions

        17     involve them with crime victims must work

        18     together to ensure that a common and

        19     comprehensive baseline of participation of

        20     victims can be achieved.  This is part of what

        21     our future work entails.

        22               We must enhance federal services to


         1     victims.  Working closely with the Office of

         2     Victims of Crime in the Office of Policy

         3     Development, we have expanded victim services

         4     and trainees, revised victim-witness brochures,

         5     and established emergency funds that can be

         6     used to assist victims for whom crucial

         7     services are unavailable.

         8               For example, it can help to fund

         9     their travel to counselling and to pay for that

        10     counselling.  The Office for Victims of Crime

        11     has just produced a training film on victims'

        12     issues for all employees of the Justice

        13     Department.  You will be the first to see this

        14     film later this week, and should think how you

        15     can use it within your own agency.

        16               It highlights the laws about victims'

        17     rights and the importance of linking victims to

        18     the services they need to heal.  It also

        19     emphasizes the importance of your work, each

        20     and every day.

        21               We must also enhance our victims'

        22     services through technology.  Technology can


         1     never take the place of a human arm of comfort

         2     and support, but it can help us reach more

         3     victims than ever before.  It cannot take the

         4     place of a human voice on the telephone, but at

         5     least it can be the effort made to ensure that

         6     victims are informed.

         7               One example is the National Domestic

         8     Hot Line.  This hot line funded by (inaudible)

         9     links individuals in English or in Spanish, and

        10     with technology for the deaf, to help in their

        11     area by using a nationwide database that

        12     includes detailed information on domestic

        13     violence shelters, other emergency shelters and

        14     legal advocacy assistance and social service

        15     programs.

        16               It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a

        17     week, and is a toll-free call from anywhere in

        18     our country.  Opened last February, the hot

        19     line averages over 200 calls per day.  What

        20     better example of bringing together federal,

        21     state, and local resources to reach victims

        22     when and where they need help.


         1               We must also make sure that,

         2     throughout our work, we keep victims at the

         3     center of the process.  I have had this single

         4     opportunity of learning from the many

         5     remarkable people I meet each year during

         6     National Crime Victims' Rights Weekend in

         7     April.

         8               People who are truly, truly making a

         9     difference for service to crime victims.  They

        10     received the Crime Victims' Service Award, the

        11     highest federal honor for victims' advocacy.

        12               Let me tell you about just one.

        13     Marilyn Smith, deaf since the age of six, was

        14     brutally raped when young.  At the time of her

        15     rape, there were no victim services for the

        16     deaf, which made her recovery needlessly long

        17     and lonely.

        18               In 1986, Marilyn founded Washington

        19     State's Abused Deaf Women Advocacy Service,

        20     which now offers a 24-hour crisis line,

        21     counselling and legal advocacy for deaf and

        22     deaf/blind victims of sexual assault and


         1     domestic violence.

         2               She is a tangible, inspiring example

         3     of what we can all do to reach victims who are

         4     still on the outside of the criminal justice

         5     process.  If you ever have the opportunity to

         6     meet her, take full advantage of her.  You will

         7     be able to go on doing better, more vigorous

         8     work the next year just by having listened to

         9     her and having felt the power of what she has

        10     done.

        11               And we will need the support.  There

        12     is so much more work to do.  You will hear and

        13     learn so much about victims at this conference,

        14     about how to best meet their needs.  You will

        15     leave with long lists of work you want to do

        16     when you return, to put into action so many of

        17     the wonderful ideas you will hear and share

        18     here.

        19               I'm going to ask you to put one more

        20     item on that list.  I hope you will be an

        21     extension of my eyes and ears.  Some of the

        22     best policy comes from victims.  I do not see,


         1     on a daily basis, as many victims as you do.

         2     So as you listen to, learn from and work with

         3     victims, let me know what you find.

         4               Talk to your supervisors, get in

         5     touch with the Office for Victims of Crime.

         6     Let us know of any gaps you find in the safety

         7     net that we are weaving together.  Let us know

         8     what you think we can do better and what can be

         9     done differently to help victims achieve

        10     justice and to achieve healing.

        11               We will share your successes and your

        12     lessons with your colleagues.  For you are the

        13     healers.  It is a vitally important job.  You

        14     are the lifeline for so many victims across

        15     America.  And often, with your help, despite a

        16     devastating experience, victims heal and become

        17     even stronger human beings and greater

        18     contributors in so many important ways to their

        19     community.

        20               Helping with this healing process is

        21     a most extraordinary privilege and an honor.

        22     Thank you for the depth of your commitment, for


         1     the crucial work you do each and every day.

         2     From my point of view, you are but little lower

         3     than the angels.

         4                    (End of Attorney General's

         5                    Address.)

         6                      *  *  *  *  *