For Immediate Release
Contact: Krista Burich, Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center
301-952-0063 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. Supports the 2008 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Observance
[Upper Marlboro, MD]— National Crime Victims’ Rights Week will be held April 13-19. These events include public rallies, candlelight vigils, and other activities held across the nation, honoring victims, their families, and those who serve them.
“This year’s theme is ‘Justice for Victims. Justice for All.’”, said Russell Butler, executive director of Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center. “That means there will be no justice for any one of us if we don’t seek greater fairness for victims of crime. It’s time for our community to stand behind those harmed by crime.”
Justice for victims has progressed dramatically since the 1980s. All states and the federal government have comprehensive victims’ rights laws, and 33 states have constitutional amendments to protect victims’ rights. Every state has a victim compensation fund, and thousands of victim service agencies help victims nationwide. Important laws, such as the federal Justice for All Act of 2004, extend protections to victims and close gaps in victims’ rights.
Despite such impressive progress, however, our nation has a long way to go. Even states with strong victims’ rights laws do not always honor these rights. Jurisdictions may fail to notify victims about court proceedings or offender status, deny them the opportunity to be heard at sentencing, fail to issue or enforce orders of restitution, or fail to inform victims about compensation they are entitled to receive. Some states limit specific rights to victims of violence, and in almost half of the states, victims of nonviolent felonies have no rights.
“Injustice to victims weakens public safety”, said John W. Gillis, director of the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. “If victims are too discouraged to report crimes or serve as witnesses, our criminal justice system grinds to a halt. Every American has a stake in victims’ rights.”
The U.S. Department of Justice will launch National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Washington, DC, with its annual National Candlelight Observance Ceremony on April 10, and its Awards Ceremony, April 11, to honor extraordinary individuals and programs that provide services to victims of crime. The Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center will commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with their Annual Ceremony of Remembrance on May 03, 2008, beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the Prince George’s County Courthouse.
Community members are encouraged to join in the week’s activities and get involved in helping victims of crime. For additional information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and events in your community, please contact: The Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center at (301) 952-0063 or 1-877-VICTIM1 or visit MCVRC’s Web site at www.mdcrimevictims.org. For information about national resources available to help crime victims, visit www.crimevictims.gov.