Federal, state officials to mark 'Crime Victim Week' Sunday

Fri, 04/20/2007 - 1:34pm
By: John Munford

David E. Nahmias, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and all heads of federal investigative agencies in the Northern District of Georgia announce that the 27th Annual Crime Victims Rights Week is scheduled for April 22-29.

The first event commemorating Crime Victims Rights Week is the annual Memorial Service, which will be held at Northside United Methodist Church, 2799 Northside Drive, Atlanta, GA, on Sunday, April 22, 2007, at 7:30 p.m. The service will include a remembrance of the victims of the Virginia Tech killings. The theme of Victims' Rights Week this year is “Victims' Rights: Every Victim. Every Time.”

“The theme is an important reminder to all of us who work with victims that we must do the right thing in every case, with every victim,” said David E. Nahmias, United States Attorney. “The attack at Virginia Tech has again shown the nation and the world the terrible impact of crime on its victims. The word ‘closure’ is often used too loosely as it relates to crime victims. We understand that, in reality, closure is something that can be very hard to find. The U.S. Attorney's Office strives to help victims to find at least some sense of closure through the criminal justice process. It is not just the victims, but their families, friends, co-workers and others who may feel the effects of crime. Our first thought, of course, is with the primary victim, who in many cases has suffered a deep personal loss. These courageous people are the backbone of the criminal justice process. Without victim-witnesses, we would not have strong cases to prosecute, and law enforcement officers would have even a tougher job. Victims deserve the greatest legal, financial and emotional support we can provide.”

The loss of a loved one to a homicide or DUI accident is a terrible tragedy, and the Crime Victim’s Advocacy Council (CVAC), the Metro Atlanta District Attorneys and the U.S. Attorney's Office hope you will join us in honoring these victims. The Memorial Service is designed to be a healing event for all victims of crime. A memorial wall of those murdered in Metro Atlanta from 1991 to 2006 will be on display, and families and friends will stand united as crime survivors who have experienced a tragedy in their families.

Crime Victims’ Week is marked nationwide not only by the Department of Justice and all of its United States Attorney’s Offices, but by other federal, state and local participating agencies. Many of the agencies and community programs get financial, volunteer, and other support to maintain their services for crime victims nationwide.

In 1981, there were few victims' rights that offered information, protection, and assistance to those who were hurt by crime, and only one state had a “victims’ bill of rights.” Today, there are over 32,000 federal and state statutes and at least 32 state-level constitutional amendments that define and protect victims’ rights. Every state and the District of Columbia have a “victims’ bill of rights.”

Here in the Northern District of Georgia, the number of federal cases alone demands an extraordinary effort to support and notify victims. Just since the first day of this year, 2007, our office, through our Victim/Witness Unit, has provided victims with over 38,500 notifications including but not limited to victims’ rights, scheduling of hearings and outcomes of court events.

In 1981 there was no federal funding for crime victims that supported the provision of quality victim services. Since then, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have provided billions of dollars to support a wide range of crime victim services that address victims' needs for information, protection, counseling, and help in exercising their rights throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Now there are over 10,000 nationwide community and justice system-based programs that help victims of crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, drunk driving, elder abuse, child abuse, hate violence, terrorism, identity theft, and survivors of homicide victims.

Every year, the United States Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) awards millions of dollars to supplement Georgia’s crime victim compensation program, which allows crime victims to receive financial help with their medical bills and other crime-associated expenses.

In addition, fines and penalties collected each year by U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Courts and the Bureau of Prisons are deposited into the federal Crime Victims Fund and are available for grant awards the following year. Last year, $650 million was deposited. That Fund was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) and is administered by OVC.

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