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National Victim Rights Week Calls for Rights, Access, and Equity

-Editorial

Millions of Americans suffer the indignity of crime each year and may experience emotional, physical, psychological, and financial harm as a result of such crime.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors proclaimed the week of April 24 to April 30 as “National Crimes Victims Week” at their most recent meeting. The award was received by the Imperial County District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Unit which help people in their darkest time.

Melissa Moore, the Victim-Witness Program Coordinator of the Office of the Imperial County District Attorney, said that the mission of the unit is to support victims and witnesses with services that will help them cope with the aftermath of victimization and help make their participation in the system less difficult and burdensome. This program works closely with other local, state, and county offices to assist victims and their families.

To assist the victims, the program partners with groups such as Womenhaven, Sure Helpline, faith-based organizations, and law enforcement from all over the valley.

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the Victim-Witness Program helped approximately 1,481 cases. An increment from the previous year in which Moore attributes that to the effects the pandemic had during the lockdown.

“During the pandemic, we saw a lot of domestic violence, family violence, and child neglect,” she said.

Despite the challenging times, the Victim-Witness Unit advocates and staff worked from home but continued to meet with victims and go to court with them by taking safety precautions during the height of COVID.

They are constantly preparing themselves to help people when Moore said they are training for mass victimization in the event there is a mass attack on schools, churches, or in a public place like it’s been seen in other places.

“We are training ourselves and working with our law enforcement partners. We hope we never use it but we have to be ready,” Moore said.

About Victim Rights Week

President Ronald Reagan created the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982 to address the needs of the millions of Americans and their families who are victimized by crime every year. In creating its report, the task force reviewed the available literature on criminal victimization, interviewed professionals responsible for serving victims, and spoke with citizens from around the country whose lives have been altered by crime.

Each year in April, the Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s Offices observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week nationwide by taking time to honor victims of crime and those who advocate on their behalf. In addition, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys Offices organize events to honor the victims and advocates, as well as bring awareness to services available to victims of crime. This year’s observance takes place April 24-30, with the theme: Rights, access, equity, for all victims.  This theme underscores the importance of helping crime survivors find their justice by enforcing victims’ rights, expanding access to services, and ensuring equity and inclusion for all.

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