Thomas County will observe the 30th anniversary of the federal Victims of Crime Act with a Tuesday ceremony at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church parish hall.
The event is at 11:30 a.m. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served.
During the week of April 6-12, National Crimes Victims’ Rights Week will be observed in communities throughout the nation.
This years’ theme is “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice.”
J. David Miller, Southern Judicial Circuit district attorney, said that when he joined 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,” Miler explained.
Victims had no access to victim compensation or services to help rebuild their lives, he said.
“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,” the district attorney said.
All states have made dramatic progress in securing rights, protection and services for victims.
In 1984, during the Reagan administration, congress passed the bipartisan Victims of Crime Act that created a national fund to ease victims’ suffering. The fund is financed not buy taxpayers but by fines and penalties paid by offenders.
For more information about the 2014 Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to help victims in Thomas County, contact Gwen C. Williams, district attorney victim advocate, at 226-6141.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400m ext. 1820.