To the Journal editor:
National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 21-27, 2013. This year's theme is New Challenges. New Solutions in recognition of the advances and progress that has been achieved for the rights of victims. The Marquette County Prosecutor's Office, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and law enforcement are joining together to bring awareness to our community.
Despite challenges, great strides have been made in protecting the rights of victims and ensuring the Victims' voices are heard. Only 30 years ago, crime victims had no rights, access to crime victim compensation, or services to help rebuild their lives.
They were often excluded from courtrooms, treated as an afterthought by the criminal justice system, and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencing.
Through decades of advocacy and hard work, we have come a long way. Today, all states have crime victims' rights laws and established crime victim compensation funds. Every year, states and localities receive millions of federal dollars to support more than 10,000 victim services agencies throughout the nation.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week reminds us that many challenges remain. Crime victims' rights are not universal and are often overlooked. Not enough victims receive crime victim compensation, which is usually limited to victims of violent crime.
Advocates face a host of new challenges as they strive to provide culturally competent services for increasingly diverse populations and victims of newly prevalent crimes despite reductions in funding.
"New Challenges. New Solutions. captures our mission in the 21st century," said Joye E. Frost, Acting Director, Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. We must craft a new vision for reaching all victims of crime.
"We can achieve this only by substantially broadening our thinking, strategically planning our future, and creatively expanding our resources and tools."
Together with the Ishpeming Middle School Student Council, faculty, and family members, we will have a tree dedication ceremony today at the Ishpeming Middle School in honor of a local drunk driving victim, Christopher "Bubba" Croley.
It is our hope that the tree dedication ceremony will honor his memory, while celebrating new life, growth and hope that comes from healing and bring awareness to crime victims' rights.
For additional information about victim services in your community, contact Cindy Boyer, Victim/Witness Coordinator, Marquette County Prosecutor's Office, 906-225-8315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit the Office for Victims of Crime website, www.ovc.gov.