FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2021


As National Crime Victims’ Rights Week approaches, Missouri calls attention to state’s advances in supporting and protecting crime victims and witnesses

House Bill 66, signed into law in 2020, created Missouri Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund to protect victims and witnesses of violent crime and their families who might be at risk

Missouri’s annual ceremony to observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 18-24) is back this year. The event will be held on April 22, 2021 at noon on the South Steps of the Capitol to allow for social distancing. The state of Missouri was unable to hold its traditional ceremony last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, the Department of Public Safety is calling attention to Missouri’s new program to protect victims and witnesses of violent crime and their families who might be endangered for providing testimony about their cases. On Sept. 21, 2020, Governor Mike Parson signed into law House Bill 66, creating the Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund, which is administered by the Department of Public Safety.   

The new law allows DPS to make funds available to Missouri law enforcement agencies from the Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of victims/witnesses of violent crime and their families if their testimony might subject them to danger or bodily injury. It provides that these services may continue as long as the danger exists.

“We must take a unified, comprehensive approach to combatting violent crime, and that includes protecting and helping support the victims and witnesses of crime in some cases where their testimony could put them in danger,” Governor Parson said. “The Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund helps by allowing law enforcement agencies to provide resources as available for the security of violent crime victims, witnesses and their immediate families.
 

“We are fully committed to fighting crime and supporting Missouri’s crime victims,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “We support victims through the Missouri’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, administering grants that fund local domestic violence shelters, violent crime de-escalation and community support programs, and victim advocates in law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices, and many other ways. We are glad to break new ground with the administration of the Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund that assists those who help combat crime by actively participating in the criminal justice system, despite the risks they and their immediate family members might face.”

Governor Parson has proclaimed April 18 to 24 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Missouri in honor of the continuing efforts of crime victims and victim advocates to make Missouri safer and more supportive of crime victims. The theme of this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities, to emphasize the importance of leveraging community support to help victims of crime.

Thursday, April 22

 

WHO:              Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe

                        Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten

                        Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson 

                        Platte County Sheriff’s Office Major Erik Holland

                                               

WHAT:             Missouri Crime Victims’ Rights Week Ceremony

WHEN:             12 p.m.

 

WHERE:           South Steps of Missouri Capitol

                          Jefferson City, MO

 

The Department of Public Safety administers programs and grants for crime victims and agencies that assist victims, including the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination  Program, the Sexual Assault Services Program Grant, the Child Physical Abuse Forensic Examination Program, the State Services to Victims Fund Grant, the STOP Violence Against Women Grant Program, the Protection Program for Victims/Witnesses of Violent Crime and the Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MOVANS).

MOVANS allows all Missourians to receive automated texts, emails, phone calls or letters any time an offender is scheduled to be released from prison or jail, or have a parole or court hearing. It also allows anyone to receive an automatic notification any time an order of protection has been served in their case. In the last five years, MOVANS has delivered more than 4 million automated phone calls, emails, text messages and letters about offender custody status, court dates and protection order status.

The Missouri Crime Victims’ Compensation program helps pay crime victims’ out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical, mental health/counseling, funeral expenses, and lost wages. In the last five years, the program has processed more than 8,800 applications and awarded more than $26 million to victims and family members who were victims of crimes involving violence or the threat of violence.   



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For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'connell@dps.mo.gov