Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crime victims find ally in advocates

from the Columbus Dispatch, by Kathy Lynn Gray

Catherine Boulant was kicked and stomped so hard by a carjacker in 2008 that her face and collarbone were shattered.

But throughout her recovery and her attacker's court case, the Capital University professor found support she never knew existed: the Franklin County victim-assistance program.

When a prosecuting attorney interviewed her for details of the assault, victims' advocate Amy Pridday was there. When her attacker faced a judge, Pridday sat with Boulant in the courtroom. When medical bills mounted, Pridday helped her apply for payments from the Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation fund.

And when Boulant stood in court and told her attacker how the brutality had affected her life, Pridday was by her side.

The advocacy program is part of a growing movement to help victims recover after a rape, the violent death of a loved one, a scam, a kidnapping or even a bank robbery.

Local victims' assistance programs now operate in the Columbus city and U.S. attorneys offices, the FBI office, the Franklin County prosecutor's office and the state prison system.

Nationally, the first programs began in 1972 as victims pushed for more rights. Since then, numerous state and federal laws have been enacted, and the federal Crime Victims Fund was established in 1984. In 1997, Congress clarified that a victim has the right to speak at a defendant's sentencing.

Advocates are part parent, part advocate and sometimes the only person victims confide in, said Jane McKenzie, director of Franklin County's Victim/Witness Assistance Unit, where Pridday works.

Read the rest of this article right here.

No comments:

Post a Comment