Funding For Program to Assist Those Who Have Been Affected by Homicide
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s 2020 Crime in Tennessee report, there has been a 37% increase in murders throughout the state compared to 2019. The news is better for the citizens of Chattanooga, who saw a 3% reduction in criminal homicides from 2020 to 2021.
“It’s a small reduction, but it’s trending in the right direction and much of that success can be attributed to the close partnership our office has with the Chattanooga Police Department,” said Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston,
While that reduction in homicides is notable, the need of homicide victims is still there. That’s why General Pinkston and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference (TNDAGC) and Tennessee Voices for Victims are working together to launch support groups for those affected by homicide statewide. The groups, which will be led by trained counselors, aim to provide connectivity and understanding and give attendees the tools they need to create a “new normal” in their lives.
“Here in Hamilton County, we’re committed to helping those affected by homicide find comfort and peace of mind,” General Pinkston said. “While our staff works tirelessly to serve and protect citizens of Hamilton County, we understand this is a process of healing that is personal. We hope these support groups can be beneficial for members of our district and go the extra step to build an even stronger sense of community.”
“We are thankful for the opportunity to work alongside district attorneys like General Pinkston across the state to bring these much-needed support groups to every corner of the state,” said Verna Wyatt, Tennessee Voices for Victims co-founder. “Loss – especially to homicide – is traumatic, and everyone goes through grief differently. Finding a community of support is crucial, and we get to witness the positive impact these groups can have on those who have gone through loss or suffering. We look forward to providing this support statewide.”
Wyatt said the support groups will be virtual, which saves travel time and cost especially since the gas prices are rising, and allows participants to join the group in the privacy of their own home. “The goal is to connect people who have experienced the murder of a loved one,” said Wyatt. “There is something comforting about being in the presence of others who understand your pain.” Wyatt said a trained facilitator (counselor) will guide the group in processing the pain of grief complicated by murder. There is no cost to victims to participate.
Those who would like to participate in a homicide loss support group can do so by going to the DA’s conference website https://www.tndagc.org/support/ and signing up. They will then be contacted by TVFV and a group will be initiated when there are two or more participants in the judicial district to begin the group. In Hamilton County specifically, they can call (423) 209-7400.
This project was supported by Award No. 2018-V2-GX-0024 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice through the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime or the State of Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs.
About Tennessee Voices for Victims
Tennessee Voices for Victims (TVFV) works on behalf of victims of crime in Tennessee. It is a central agency that enables crime victims across the state to network with one another and journey toward healing. If you’ve been the victim of a crime, we can help. Visit our website to learn more.
About the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference
The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to provide for a more prompt and efficient administration of justice in the courts of the state. It is composed of the elected District Attorneys General from the state’s 31 judicial districts. www.tndagc.org