April 14, 2010

April 19 ceremony at Missouri Capitol marks National Crime Victims' Rights Week

April 18-24 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time for those involved in the criminal justice system and all of us to remember the protections now guaranteed to crime victims in Missouri and across the U.S.  This year's theme—Crime Victims' Rights: Fairness.  Dignity.  Respect.—celebrates the tremendous advances that have been made in the last 26 years.
In 1984, Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which created the Crime Victims Fund.  The fund, supported by federal criminal fines, penalties and bond forfeitures, supports state victims' compensation and local victim assistance programs.  Other landmark advances include mandatory victim notifications about defendant court hearings, trials and prison releases, and important victim support services.
The Missouri Crime Victims Fund supports victim compensation programs, which reimburse victims for many out-of pocket expenses that victims face in the aftermath of the crime.  It also helps fund victim assistance programs that support victims by providing physical and emotional care and guidance in navigating the criminal justice system.
Missouri continues to make strides.  In 2009, Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law legislation that:
·    Expands the crime of endangering the welfare of a child to include any person who possesses methamphetamine in the presence of a child under the age of 17 or who has meth in any residence where a child under 17 lives ·    Allows the state Crime Victims' Compensation Fund to grow through gifts made by the public to the fund ·    Allows victims of some serious crimes to be represented by a designee at parole and probation revocation hearings, rather than having to appear in person ·    Permits crime victims to receive a current photograph of the person incarcerated for a crime against them prior to the offender's release ·    Creates new protections for children testifying in court cases, allowing a judge to limit the amount of time a child must endure on the witness stand, permitting a child to have a loved one nearby as they testify and to have a toy or "comfort" blanket while testifying
"We have made tremendous progress in the way that victims are treated by all areas of the criminal justice system, but the work must continue," said Gov. Nixon.  "An important part of this process is eliminating loopholes that can block prosecutions and accurately tracking offenders.  That's why I am very pleased that Missouri is moving toward meaningful DWI reform.  Victim advocates have been an important part of the work to keep repeat offenders off the road.  I look forward to continuing to work with legislators from both parties to make Missouri's roadways safer.”
There will be a ceremony in honor of National Crime Victims' Rights Week on April 19 at noon on the south steps of the Missouri Capitol.  A reception hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving will immediately follow the ceremony.  Missouri Department of Public Safety Director John M. Britt will speak and read a National Crime Victims' Rights Week proclamation. 
The following agencies donated their time and effort to make this year's Crime Victims' Rights Week ceremony and awareness events successes: Missouri Attorney General's Office, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Missouri Department of Corrections, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missouri Department of Public Safety—Crime Victims' Compensation Program, Missouri Department of Public Safety—Crime Victim Services Unit, Missouri Department of Social Services—Youth Services Division, Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, Missouri Secretary of State's Office—Safe at Home, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.


For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail