Department of Justice commemorates National Crime Victims' Rights Week

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge joins the Department of Justice and communities nationwide in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, celebrating victims’ rights, protections and services throughout the week. This year’s observance takes place April 19-25 and features the theme, “Seek Justice/Ensure Victims’ Rights/Inspire Hope.”

“Every year, millions of Americans suffer the shock and trauma of criminal victimization, affecting their well-being and sense of security and dignity,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “To these victims, we affirm our unwavering commitment to supporting them in their hour of need. We also commend the thousands of victim advocates and public safety professionals who labor tirelessly to secure victims’ rights and support survivors.”

“Here in West Michigan, we have assisted victims of all manner of crimes: from financial scams and identity theft, to domestic and sexual abuse, from human trafficking and child pornography, to the distribution of drugs resulting in death,” said Birge. “There is no greater responsibility we have than securing justice for crime victims and supporting them throughout a prosecution. This is the week to publicly affirm our commitment to victim rights, but I am very proud of the attorneys, support staff and, in particular, the victim specialists in my office for the professionalism, understanding and outcomes they continuously show crime victims.”

“While we have made tremendous progress driving down crime and violence across the country, far too many Americans continue to suffer the pain and loss of criminal victimization,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs, which oversees the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). “This week, we stand by these survivors and their families, and we pledge our ongoing support to the countless men and women who serve them with such extraordinary skill and compassion.”

Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, putting crime victims’ rights, needs and concerns in a prominent spot on the American agenda. He also established the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime, which laid the groundwork for a national network of services and legal safeguards for crime victims. President Trump and his administration have implemented historic levels of support for victim assistance and victim compensation.

It should also be noted that, in 1985, an Ottawa County legislator in Michigan introduced the state Victims’ Rights legislation which was copied across the nation. The William Van Regenmorter Crime Victims Rights Act was renamed in his honor in 2006.

Some 3.3 million Americans age 12 and older were victims of violent crime in 2018, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. The OVC supports more than 7,000 local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state and U.S. territory. Funds for these programs come from the Crime Victims Fund, which is made up of federal criminal fines, penalties and bond forfeitures.

During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, victim advocacy organizations, community groups and state, local and tribal agencies traditionally host rallies, candlelight vigils and other events to raise awareness.
This year, many communities are organizing virtual gatherings and online public awareness campaigns.

“Crime victims deserve to know that they have the encouragement and support of the American people,” said OVC Director Jessica E. Hart. “I hope that citizens throughout the nation will take the opportunity this week to remember all victims of crime and their heroic stories of survival. I encourage everyone to also find meaningful ways to express their appreciation to the many committed and compassionate service providers across the country who work tirelessly supporting these survivors.”

For more on how to create your own public campaigns to raise awareness about crime victims’ rights online and at events throughout the year, please visit: ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw2020/overview.html


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