National Crime Victims Rights Week Berks County, PA April 10-16, 2011
HONORING THE PAST VIGIL - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:30 PM Mineral Spring Park
RESHAPING THE FUTURE WALK - Saturday, April 16, 2011 Registration 9 AM / Walk 10 AM City Park
A crime may last only moments, But its impact can be felt for a lifetime.
Office of Justice Programs
The vision of National Crime Victims Rights’ week is to raise the public’s consciousness and generate media awareness about the impact of crime on individuals, families and communities in order to promote and strengthen programs, public policy and services that promote victim justice; to remember the pain and suffering of crime victims by honoring them and publicly recognizing their losses, and by reminding all Americans that victims of crime are people they know and love; and to celebrate the many accomplishments of the victim assistance field, and re-commit our individual and collective resources to meet the needs of all victims of crime in our nation.
Presidential Proclamation--National Crime Victims' Rights Week
"My Administration remains focused on advancing the progress made in preventing crime and enforcing the rights of its survivors."
"So sudden a loss causes us to look backward --- but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.
We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we're doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.
We recognize our own mortality and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame --- but rather, how well we have loved -- and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better."
NE Middle School Assemblies
Reshaping The Future 2 Assemblies at Northeast Middle School Friday, April 8, 2011 Promoting random acts of kindness!
Please Join Us!
National Crime Victims Rights Week Vigil
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:30 PM Mineral Spring Park S. 19th Street Reading, PA (behind East Ends Athletic Assn.)
The Remembrance Quilt is in memory of any homicide victim.
The Tribute Quilt is in honor of any crime victim.
Saturday, April 16, 2011 City Park Reading, PA Registration 9 AM Walk begins 10 AM
National Crime Victims Rights Week Walk
Learn more about our shoe display..
Years of Tears will be displaying shoes of homicide victims during our walk. If you would like to participate, bring a pair of shoes your loved one wore or a pair of shoes similar to what they wore, a picture and any symbol or item of your choice to represent them.
Crime Victims in Berks County, PA can contact the District Attorney's office for information concerning victims rights.
John T. Adams, Esquire Berks County Services Center 633 Court Street, 5th Floor Reading, PA 19601 Monday-Friday, 8 am to 5 pm Phone 610-478-6000 email email@example.com
Berks County, PA District Attorney John T. Adams
Pennsylvania Crime Victim Bill of Rights
When will I know what my rights are?
Within 24 hours after the crime is reported to the local police, they will give you written information that tells you what your rights are and what services are available to you.
When your victim service provider learns how to reach you, they will call you on the phone or send you a letter. If you have questions right away, you can call them first.
Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past for Victims of Crime National Crime Victims' Rights Week which we observe this week brings us closer to victims of all crimes. It calls us to ask how we would feel if a child were murdered or a loved one brutally attacked. To think about how our nation treats crime victims - where we have helped them and where we have fallen short. And to ask the meaning of justice - present and future - for those harmed by crime. This years theme Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past, calls us to reflect together on those questions - and then to act.
What does it mean to honor the past for victims of crime? It means never forgetting the impact of crime. For the families who will gather at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 11 will never end. Their loved ones were violently murdered and there is no 'closure', and there will forever be huge holes in their lives. Although a shaken nation rallied around them, we can not repair their loss.
Honoring the Past means remembering the victims of less publicized crimes. The families of more than 15,000 homicide victims in 2009, for example, feel the same anguish and face the same struggles as the victims of terrorists attacks. It means remembering the more than 15 million children in this nation who live in households where partner violence has occured. It means remembering how long our nation viewed domestic violence as a family matter, rather than a crime. It means understanding that last years identity theft or scam victim may spend a lifetime recovering from that loss. It means recognizing that for the most part, victims alone bear the burden of these crimes.
Honoring the past also means celebrating more than thirty years of progress in establishing victims' rights. Until the last few decades, victims and their families were regularly excluded from courtrooms, received no notifications about court proceedings or perpetrator's whereabouts, and had few rights to speak at sentencing. Rape victims had to pay for their own forensic examinations. Victims received almost no compensation for their injuries or crime related expenses, and - unlike the accused - had no right to a speedy trial. (Pennsylvania crime victims still do not have the right to a speedy trial as many face defense requested delay after delay) The criminal justice system's unresponsiveness to victims, said the chair of the President's Task Force on Victim's of Crime in 1986, was 'a national disgrace.'
The Task Force's scathing report, which included 68 recommendations to improve the treatment of victims, launched an era of reform. Only four years after the report was issued, 31 states had passed victims rights laws and 75% of the Task Force's recommendations had been put into effect. New laws gave victim's the right to be present in court, to apply for compensation, to be heard at parole and sentencing hearings, to be notified when offenders were released and to receive information about their rights and available services. Every state has now passed victim's rights laws and 32 states have constitutional victim's rights amendments (Pennsylvania does not), every state has a victim compensation program, and more than 10,000 victim assistance programs have been established throughout the country.
Despite this progress, crime victims still face many challenges. Only 2 to 15 percent of crime victims access needed victim services, such as crisis and mental health counseling, shelter information, financial assistance, and advocacy within the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Victim's rights vary significantly from state to state and between state and the federal government. Furthermore, many victims do not know they have legal rights. Some victims are still being denied notification, compensation and access to courts and too few jurisdictions have set up coordinated, consistent victim response systems. Also, the impact of the recent recession - both on donations to non - profit victim services and on city, state and county budgets - means that fewer victim assistance programs are available.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week calls our nation to take up these challenges - to reshape the future by facing our failures and building on the successes of the past. Although this challenge may seem overwhelming, every jurisdiction and every individual can do something to improve our response to victims of crime. We can;
Enforce current victims' rights laws. Victims' rights without enforcement are meaningless. Everytime a victim is denied rightful access to a courtroom, the opportunity to present a victim impact statement, or information about his or her rights, that failure affects us all. When a court fails to inform a murder victim's family about a hearing where the accused is ultimately released, the system fails the victim and undermines respect for the court. When offenders are released from Federal prisons or medical furloughs without notifying victims or witnesses, authorities endanger victims and sometimes foster more crime. Policymakers and citizens need to insist that victims rights be enforced.
Reach out to underserved victims. For a number of complex reasons, millions of crimes go unreported every year. In 2009, victims reported 49 percent of violent crimes and 40 percent of property crimes to the police. Only about one in six cases of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation is ever reported to the authorities, and teenagers are twice as likely as adults to be victimized but much more likely than adults not to report crimes against them. Recent immigrants, too, are more likely than other adults to report crimes. These numbers reflect the million of crime victims who have no contact with the criminal justice system and no means to excercise their rights. Finding ways to reduce these numbers, through outreach by trusted community members or other means, should be an urgent local, state and national priority.
Support crime victims in your community Although most of us do not hold public office, we all have the power to help crime victims. Employers can help prevent workplace violence and actively prevent stalking and domestic violene victims who work for them. They can give victims time off to attend court proceedings and receive needed services. Teachers, youth workers, clergy members and health professionals can look for signs of abuse or sexual victimization in children and teenagers, and find ways to offer support. Parents and teachers can demand strong anti - bullying laws and policies, ensuring that young victims are supported and bullies receive the intervention they need. Also, we can all volunteer at victim service agencies and support them financially.
Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past then reflects the power of crime victims and their allies to change the course of history. By recalling past struggles and triumphs during National Crime Victims Rights Week, we can face the future with hope. May we honor all victims by seeking the fullest possible justice for those harmed by crime.
"This project is supported by a National Crime Victims' Right Week Community Awareness Project subgrant awarded by the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators under a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice."