National Crime Victims' Rights Week | Expand the Circle to Reach All VictimsPosted: 04/06/2018
Every year, millions of Americans are affected by crime. Many will need ongoing care and resources. April 8–14 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to celebrate progress achieved, raise awareness of victims’ rights and services, and stand with our families, neighbors, friends, and colleagues whose lives have been forever altered by crime. We are committed to making the criminal justice system as accessible as possible and to building partnerships across our community so that we can truly Expand the Circle to Reach All Victims.
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) of the U.S. Department of Justice leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme—Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims—highlights how the investment of communities in crime victims expands the opportunity for victims to disclose their victimization, connect with services, and receive the support they need.
Victims of all types of crime—both violent and non-violent—may experience trauma, which includes not only physical injuries, but the mental and emotional wounds caused by the victimization. Sometimes that trauma is compounded in the aftermath of a crime—in the re-telling of details to law enforcement or when encountering the perpetrator in the justice system.
The District Attorney General’s Office is fortunate to work with so many agencies that provide services to victims of crime. These partner organizations offer counseling, support groups, financial assistance, advocacy and other vital services.
“Our office plays an important role in a crime victim’s healing process through seeking justice. Victim’s rights provide a layer of needed protection and empowerment to victims in what can be a very confusing and painful process,” said District Attorney General Charme Allen. “Our victim-witness coordinators have an essential role in the criminal justice process. Their compassion and unique skill-set help give victims the confidence to move forward. I am very proud of what our team of victim-witness coordinators do every single day.”
The Knox County District Attorney General’s Office provides more than twenty victim-witness coordinators to serve crime victims. Many of these victim-witness coordinators receive special training to serve specific populations in order to address unique needs and circumstances. In Tennessee, the victim-witness coordinator position was created in 1986, and TCA 8-7-206 outlines the specific duties of this position. Essentially, victim-witness coordinators advise victims of their rights, help them exercise their rights and help them better understand how the criminal justice system works.
So, what are victim’s rights?
Rights of Victims of Crimes - Tennessee Constitution Article I, § 35:
To preserve and protect the rights of victims of crime to justice and due process, victims shall be entitled to the following basic rights:
- The right to confer with the prosecution.
- The right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice system.
- The right to be present at all proceedings where the defendant has the right to be present.
- The right to be heard, when relevant, at all critical stages of the criminal justice process as defined by the General Assembly.
- The right to be informed of all proceedings, and of the release, transfer or escape of the accused or convicted person.
- The right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction or sentence.
- The right to restitution from the offender.
- The right to be informed of each of the rights established for victims.
The General Assembly has the authority to enact substantive and procedural laws to define, implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to victims by this section.
Victim-witness coordinators passionately serve crime victims and work to achieve the best possible outcome for each victim. Throughout National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, some of our victim-witness coordinators will share why victims’ rights are so important and why they have chosen to work with crime victims. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter!