It is Crime Victims’ Rights Week

This week is crime victims’ rights week, a national event, but one with local ones as well.

The rationale behind the week, according to the Office for Victims of Crime, is this:

Each April since 1981, OVC has helped lead communities throughout the country in their observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). Rallies, candlelight vigils, and a host of commemorative activities are held each year to promote victims’ rights and to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.

Kelly Pelland, the victim/witness coordinator at the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, is also helping out in passing a resolution before the county commissioners. I’ve attached it below. It also contains some staggering statistics everyone should be aware of.

WHEREAS, a just society acknowledges crime’s impact on individuals, families, and communities by ensuring that rights, resources, and services are available to help rebuild lives; and

WHEREAS, victims’ rights are a critical component of the promise of “justice for all,” the foundation for our system of justice in America; and

WHEREAS, although our nation has steadily expanded rights, protections, and services for victims of crime, too many victims are still not able to realize the hope and promise of these gains; and

WHEREAS, observing victims’ rights and treating victims with dignity and respect serves the public interest by engaging victims in the justice system, inspiring respect for public authorities, and promoting confidence in public safety; and

WHEREAS, Kitsap County recognizes that we make our homes, neighborhoods, and communities safer and stronger by serving victims of crime and ensuring justice for all; and

WHEREAS, We must strive to protect, expand, and observe crime victims’ rights so that there truly is justice for victims and justice for all; and

WHEREAS, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week –April 13 to 19, 2008– offers us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to ensuring that every victim is afforded his or her legal rights, and is treated as a crucial participant in our criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, 10 homicides were referred for prosecution last year, which include 3 domestic violence homicides and 6 vehicular homicides; and

WHEREAS, 1,484 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases, 6 vehicular homicides, and 12 vehicular assaults were referred for prosecution last year. and

WHEREAS, 2,692 Domestic Violence cases were referred for prosecution last year, with the YWCA Alive Shelter providing temporary shelter to 74 women and 34 children (providing a total of 4,365 bed nights) and responding to 7,011 crisis, information and referral calls, however turning away 1,438 women and children for lack of space. The YWCA Alive Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap provided services to 300 women and children, and YWCA Alive Legal Advocacy provided services to 1,415 people; and

WHEREAS, 630 Sexual Assaults were referred for prosecution last year (not including 19 pornographic materials cases, and 74 failure to register as sex offender cases). The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) program performed approximately 151 sexual assault exams, and of these about 62 were for children aged 14 and under. The Kitsap County Sexual Assault Center served 2,201 clients; and of those, 298 were child victims of sexual assault aged 12 and under, 277 were teen victims of sexual assault, 98 were adult victims of sexual assault, and 449 were adult sexual assault survivors; and

WHEREAS, 936 incidents of possible abuse and neglect of Kitsap County children were reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) in 2007 and accepted for investigation; and

WHEREAS, crime victims play an indispensable role in bringing offenders to justice; and

WHEREAS, that as individuals and as a community, we continue to value crime victims and survivors, and to value justice, and

WHEREAS, Kitsap County is joining forces with the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Kitsap Sexual Assault Center, the YWCA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), The Domestic Violence Task Force, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), Kitsap Special Sexual Assault Investigations and Victims’ Services (SAIVS), Crime Victims Assistance Center, Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Port Orchard Police Department, Bremerton Police Department, Poulsbo Police Department, Suquamish Police Department, Bainbridge Island Police Department, Port Gamble S’Klallam Police Department, and concerned citizens throughout Kitsap County, Washington State and America to observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners designates the week of April 13 to 19, 2008, as Kitsap County Crime Victims’ Rights Week; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners reaffirms a commitment to respect and enforce victims’ rights and address their needs during 2008 Kitsap County Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year; and
We express our appreciation for those victims and crime survivors who have turned personal tragedy into a motivating force to improve our response to victims of crime and build a more just community.

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