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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen hosted a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda today with the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council and the Office of Crime Victim Services to commemorate 2009 National Crime Victims' Rights Week. The ceremony featured youth impacted by crime and commemorated the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the U.S. Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
Artwork created for national crime victims rights week by youth victims of crime served by Milwaukee's Project Ujima, was displayed at the ceremony. Project Ujima is affiliated with Children's Hospital in Milwaukee and receives funding from the Wisconsin Department of Justice to provide victim and witness services to victims. A youth victim of crime from Project Ujima spoke at the ceremony about the impact of crime on his life.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen spoke of the importance of victims' rights and services and the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Program. The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was enacted in 1984 to provide financial support for state crime victim compensation and victim assistance programs. The Act created the Crime Victims Fund through which more than $9 billion has been collected from federal criminal fines and other penalties, instead of taxpayer dollars, to support victim services.
Van Hollen presented an award to Steve Derene, the Executive Director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA). Derene was instrumental in the passage of VOCA and in the passage of Wisconsin's Victim's Bill of Rights, the first state constitutional bill of rights for crime victims in the nation.
"Through the VOCA program, the responsibility for paying for victim services is where it belongs with the criminals, not the taxpayers," said Van Hollen. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice provides grants with this money to support public and non-profit organizations that assist tens of thousands of victims in Wisconsin every year."
Crime victims can call the Department's Victim Resource Center for information and referral and for assistance understanding and exercising crime victim rights at (1-800-446-6564.) Additional information about victims' rights and services can be found at the DOJ Website.