Crime victim advocates to be recognized

Apr 25, 2014

To follow up National Crime Victims’ Rights week, April 6 through 12, the Western North Carolina Crime Victims´ Coalition will hold its 10th annual event Wednesday, April 30 to honor, support and empower victims of crime and their families.

Special Agent Sean Sojack with the U.S. Secret Service will be speaking and special music will be provided by Western North Carolina’s very own award winning country, bluegrass and Americana musician, Darren Nicholson.

The event, by invitation only, will recognize individuals in law enforcement and beyond who have gone above and beyond to assist victims of abuse. During last year's event, Det. Scott Muse from the Waynesville Police Department was the recipient of one of the prestigious regional awards.

This year’s theme for Crime Victim’s Rights Week, 30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice, presents the opportunity to salute victim service providers and their long-term commitment to aiding crime victims. As we celebrate three decades of defending victims’ rights, we are reminded of how far we have come — and how much work is yet to be done.

Only 30 years ago, crime victims had virtually no rights and no assistance. The criminal justice system often seemed indifferent to their needs. Victims were commonly excluded from courtrooms and denied the chance to speak at sentencing. They had no access to victim compensation or services to help rebuild their lives. There were few avenues to deal with their emotional and physical wounds. Victims were on their own to recover their health, security, and dignity.

Today, the nation has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections and services for victims. Every state has enacted victims’ rights laws and all have victim compensation programs. More than 10,000 victim service agencies now help people throughout the country.

In 1984, Congress passed the bipartisan Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which created a national fund to ease victims’ suffering. Financed not by taxpayers but by fines and penalties paid by offenders, the Crime Victims Fund supports victim services, such as rape crisis and domestic violence programs and victim compensation programs that pay many of victims’ out-of-pocket expenses from the crime, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and lost wages.

The Western North Carolina Crime Victims' Coalition is made of up victim advocates from the following local agencies in Western North Carolina: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Asheville Police Department, Buncombe County Office of the Sherriff, the US Attorney’s Office, Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office, Pisgah Legal Services, Caring for Children-Trinity Place, Helpmate, and 30th Judicial District DV/SA Alliance, Inc.