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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen will commemorate National Crime Victims Rights Week with a public ceremony in the State Capitol Building Rotunda (balcony level) on April 21st from 12:00 until 12:30. The ceremony will be co-hosted with the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council and the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services. In addition to remarks by the Attorney General, awards will be given to two Wisconsin professionals who have worked to protect the statutory rights of victims of crime. The Menomonee Falls Police Department color guard will open and close the observance with flag ceremonies.
2010 National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 18 24. The annual observance is commemorated throughout the Untied States in order to raise awareness about the laws that protect the interests of victims of crime. The 2010 national theme is: "Fairness. Dignity. Respect." The theme is a reference to the guiding principles of victims' rights laws that ensure victims are kept informed, able to attend proceedings and given opportunities for input.
The Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services assists victims in understanding and exercising their rights. "Victims' rights are central to making the criminal justice process fair," said Attorney General Van Hollen, "Victims have the right to be present at court proceedings and to be informed about their case. Victims' rights laws make sure victims are not treated as outsiders, but instead are treated justly and with the dignity they deserve."
Attorney General Van Hollen will present two awards at the ceremony. The family of Rich Anderson will be presented with a plaque of appreciation for Anderson's pioneering work in the victim services and victims' rights field. Anderson, who passed away earlier this year, is credited with developing, leading and refining key programs that help victims of crime, most notably the Crime Victims Compensation Program, housed in the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The program reimburses victims of crime for certain expenses related to their victimization. Anderson went on to provide assistance to other states, helping literally millions of crime victims throughout the nation who would find assistance through programs Anderson helped develop.
An award will also be given to Colleen Jo Winston, the Director of the Department of Corrections Office of Victim Services and Programs. Since her appointment as the office's first director in 2000, Winston has expanded and enhanced the services provided to victims to keep them informed about their offender's custody status. Winston's office provides over 16,000 notifications to victims each year about offender custody status changes and offers personal assistance and advocacy to crime victims.
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, at www.doj.state.wi.us/cvs.