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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen will kick off National Crime Victims Rights Week with a public ceremony in the State Capitol Building Rotunda (balcony level) on April 27th from 12:00 until 12:30. The ceremony is co-hosted with the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council and the Office of Crime Victim Services. In addition to remarks by the Attorney General, the ceremony will feature artwork created by youth victims of crime served by Milwaukee's Project Ujima. A young person from Project Ujima will speak about being a survivor of crime. A copy of the invitation for the event is available.
2009 National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 26 - May 2. This annual observance seeks to increase public awareness of the rights and services available to people who have been victimized by crime. The 2009 national theme is: "25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act.” The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was enacted in 1984 to provide financial support for state crime victim compensation and victim assistance programs.
"The VOCA Program has helped pay for essential victim services for 25 years through criminal fines and other penalties, not taxpayer dollars,” said Van Hollen, "In fact, more than $9 billion has been collected to support victim service programs throughout the nation. The Wisconsin Department of Justice provides grants with this money to support organizations that assist tens of thousands of victims in Wisconsin every year.”
In addition to the ceremony, the Department's Office of Crime Victim Services (OCVS) is engaged in an outreach and awareness campaign during the week, paid for with a grant received through the U.S. Department of Justice to raise community awareness of victims' rights and services. Brochures and materials designed to assist victims in understanding their rights will be distributed to agencies and organizations throughout the state to increase knowledge of the services available to victims in Wisconsin. OCVS staff will also participate in public awareness and education events around the state during the week.
"In Wisconsin, crime victims have statutory rights and it is part of our mission that victims are informed and able to participate in the criminal justice system,” said Van Hollen, "Crime Victims' Rights Week is a good opportunity to get the word out about the work that is being done to assist victims and to pledge that we will continue to reach out to victims and to be responsive to their needs.”
Crime victims can call the Department's Victim Resource Center for information and referral and for assistance understanding and exercising crime victim rights (1-800-446-6564.) Additional information about victims' rights and services can be found at the DOJ Website.