Julliana Shon looks at a plaque about a 7-year-old crime victim in front of the Yolo County Courthouse as part of the he Crime Victims' Tribute in 2008. Alison Portello/Enterprise file photo

Crime, Fire + Courts

Yolo DA to honor crime victims Friday

By April 12, 2011

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and its Victim Services Division on Friday will hold its fifth annual Crime Victims’ Tribute, honoring those who have survived and persevered through their victimization and subsequent court prosecution process.

Sunday marked the beginning of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in honor of victims and the advocates of victims’ rights. This year’s theme — “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past” — evokes victims’ past struggles and our nation’s duty to help them rebuild stronger lives.

The ceremony is planned from noon to 1 p.m. at the Woodland Opera House, 340 Second St. in downtown Woodland.

“We talk about preserving the dignity of victims and their families,” said District Attorney Jeff Reisig, whose office began hosting the annual tributes in 2007. “The tribute ceremony is a favorite of mine because we get to honor our victims for their strength and resilience.”

For victims, reshaping the future means confronting many challenges. After a crime, victims need to know what rights and resources they can count on. They may need funds to bury a loved one or pay medical bills. They may want information on the criminal justice process, their rights to be present or heard in court, and to be notified about court proceedings and offenders’ whereabouts.

Yet many victims do not find the help they need.

For victim advocates, reshaping the future, particularly in these financially stressed times, means finding ways to do more with less. It means locating resources for victims and helping new victims, such as the millions harmed by financial fraud. Reshaping the future requires meeting present and emerging challenges.

Honoring the past also means recalling a time, not too many years ago, when victims had no voice in the criminal justice system, when murder victims’ families were excluded from courtrooms and assault victims paid all their own medical bills.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week honors the victims and advocates who confronted such injustices and helped produce a nationwide system of victim compensation and victims’ rights. It’s also a reminder that failures to enforce these laws or to fund programs for victims jeopardize the success of these reforms.

” ‘Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past’ captures the spirit and mission of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week,” said Joye E. Frost, acting director of the Federal Office for Victims of Crime. “The past that we honor points to a future when all victims are respected, the laws to protect them are enforced, and the resources they need are in place and accessible to them. Justice demands no less.”

Special to The Enterprise

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