Image in European Parliament via Flickr Creative Commons.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week: Restoring the Balance of Justice

By Community Alliance Staff

The Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) has designated an annual National Crime Victims’ Week, and it will be observed April 6–12 this year. The theme of this year’s Victims’ Rights Week is “30 Years Restoring the Balance of Justice,” recognizing past achievements and setting a new agenda for the future.

It has been 30 years since the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Before this historic legislation, the world was a different place for crime victims, their families and their communities. The criminal justice system failed to recognize victims’ need to be included in the justice process; victims’ support, counseling or shelter were rarely available for victims; and crime victim compensation programs were not consistently available. The VOCA became a driving force in expanding rights of victims, and considerable progress has been made to support crime victims and recognize victims’ needs in the justice process.

Although much has been accomplished, the next 30 years will bring new challenges with the growth in financial fraud and online victimization, the urgent need to address human trafficking, the increasing role of DNA in justice for victims, the ongoing work of reaching out to underserved victims and marginalized populations and addressing those whose victimization is hidden or underreported. Examples include victims of disabilities, American Indians and Alaska Natives, LGBT, children exposed to violence, and labor and sex trafficking victims.

Local victim advocates are organizing several events in conjunction with the National Crime Victims’ Week throughout April to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf and enhance the public awareness of crime victims.

Victims’ Right Exhibition

April 1–May 15 (open during library hours)
2F, Henry Madden Library, Fresno State
Exhibition of memorials of victims, memorial quilts, victims’ artwork, introduction of local victim advocate groups, victim-related books and message board
Contact: Dr. Yoshiko Takahashi, Department of Criminology, ytakahashi@csufresno.edu

The Lisa Project in Fresno

April 2–May 4 (Tuesday–Friday, noon–8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.; closed Mondays and Easter Sunday)
Central Unified School District Office, 5652 W. Gettysburg Ave.
A multimedia child abuse prevention exhibit taking the visitor on a journey through the lives of children affected by child abuse
Contact: First 5 Fresno County, 559-241-6512

2014 Fresno County Crime Victims Memorial Quilts Display

April 6–12
Lobby, County Plaza Building, 2220 Tulare St.
Memorial to victims of deadly crimes in Fresno County
Contact: James Rowland Crime Victims’ Assistance Center, 559-488-3425

Panel Discussion: The Power of Collaboration in Strengthening the Safety Net in Victim Trauma Response and Recovery

April 24 (1 p.m.–3 p.m.)
Room 2206, Henry Madden Library, Fresno State
Focus on collaboration among and between victim services and members of the criminal justice system in addressing victim trauma response and recovery
Contact: Dr. Yoshiko Takahashi, Department of Criminology, ytakahashi@csufresno.edu

  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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