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Victims Advocate Karen Ambrose of the Colquitt County District Attorney's Office.

Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney J. David Miller recently announced that there will be a program at 11:30 a.m. April 4 in the Commission Meeting Room of the Colquitt County Courthouse Annex to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the federal Victims of Crime Act.

This year’s theme is “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice.”

Miller noted that when he started with the District Attorney’s Office in 1985, crime victims had virtually no rights and no assistance. The criminal justice system often seemed indifferent to their needs. Victims were commonly excluded from courtrooms and denied the chance to speak at sentencing, he said. They had no access to victim compensation or services to help rebuild their lives. There were few avenues to deal with their emotional and physical wounds. Victims were pretty much left on their own to recover their health, security and dignity.

Today, every state has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections and services for victims, Miller said. Each state has enacted victims’ right laws and all have victim compensation programs. In 1984, during the Reagan administration, Congress passed the bipartisan Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which created a national fund to ease victims’ suffering. Financed not by taxpayers but by fines and penalties paid by the offenders, the Crime Victims Fund supports victim services, such as child advocacy centers, rape crisis and domestic violence shelters, as well as victim compensation programs that pay many of victims’ out-of-pocket expenses from the crime, such as counseling, funeral expenses and lost wages.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week will be held April 6-12 in communities throughout the nation.

Colquitt County will help observe the week with a Kickoff Ceremony to honor victims of  crime at the above place and time. The public is invited and refreshments and a light lunch will be served.

For additional information about the 2014 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to help victims in Colquitt County, contact District Attorney Victim Advocate Karen Ambrose at 616- 7476.

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