Recent statistics show Americans are the victims of 20 million crimes each year, affecting both individuals and communities.
Since 1981, a week in April has been designated as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, to bring attention to the rights of victims, highlight the impact crime has on families, friends and the community, and promote laws, policies, and programs to help victims of crime. This week provides an opportunity for communities to reflect on the history of the victims’ rights movement, celebrate its progress and renew commitments to ensure all victims of crime have the rights and services they need to recover and receive the justice they deserve. The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) 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, April 8-14, 2018, is designated as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The theme, Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims, emphasizes the importance of how the investment of communities in crime victims expands the opportunity for them to disclose their victimization, connect with services, and receive the support they need. Building relationships and engaging our communities across professional, cultural, economic, and other divides to remove barriers to reporting and accessing services is essential to supporting the needs of all victims of crime.
In 2004, Congress passed the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, giving victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee is committed to ensuring crime victims associated with prosecutions handled by our office are provided with all the rights they are entitled to by law. Our district, like federal districts across the country, has dedicated personnel to ensure victims are treated with fairness and respect as they journey through the federal criminal justice system. Among other things, our victim assistance specialists provide notice of case events; inform victims of their rights, and keep victims informed about case proceedings.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office plays a vital role in helping to fund state victim compensation and assistance programs through its collection of court-ordered fines and assessments. The Crime Victims Fund, administered by OVC, supports a variety of programs and services that focus on helping victims in the immediate aftermath of crime and continue to support them as they rebuild their lives. Fines and assessments ordered by the U.S. District Court and collected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office go directly into the Crime Victims Fund to be distributed to every U.S. state and territory to finance their victim compensation and assistance programs.
The prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee have always been committed to supporting and providing service to victims of all federal crimes, including violent crimes, fraud, identity theft, human trafficking, elder abuse and exploitation, and sexual crimes against children. And, we will continue to prosecute the individuals who commit these crimes, sending a message to other would-be perpetrators that their actions will not be tolerated.
I encourage everyone to participate in events in your community during National Crime Victims’ Week. While this particular week is dedicated to all crime victims, there are specific victim-related observances throughout the year in which you can also participate.
For additional information about these events as well as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, please visit OVC’s website at www.ovc.gov.
J. Douglas Overbey
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Tennessee