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Honorees Were Recognized During Today’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week Ceremony
MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council today honored three people, who go above and beyond in their support of victims’ rights in Wisconsin, with Champions of Victims’ Rights Awards during the annual Crime Victims’ Rights Week Ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda.
“The testimonials from those who’ve nominated these three ‘champions’ are truly inspiring. The actions of Jane, Al and Jennifer speak volumes about who they are as human beings and why we are here today – to support crime victims and to inform others as to how we all can make a difference, not only this week but when called upon to assist,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.
Below is more information about each of this year’s award recipients:
Jane Benzschawel, Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS) Coordinator at CAP Services
Jane Benzschawel became the first community-based advocate to represent a victim through the formal complaint process before the Wisconsin Crime Victims’ Rights Board. She learned the law, the administrative structure and the processes related to the Rights Board. The victim was able to assert her rights through the formal complaint process because Jane was willing to think outside of the box, take on a new role and do the extra work to create the infrastructure at her agency that will allow for this type of victims’ rights advocacy in the future.
Al Passehl, Owner of Classic Lanes Bowling
Al Passehl shut down his bowling alley so it could be used by law enforcement and victim witness coordinators to help victims’ families and members of the Sikh community in the immediate aftermath of the Sikh Temple shooting. It stayed closed for 37 straight hours, providing a safe haven for victims to give and receive information from law enforcement and to receive victim witness services. Al Passehl offered a respite from the public eye and supported those rights when he opened his doors. In the months that have followed, the Office of Crime Victim Services at the Department of Justice has heard from victim witness and law enforcement present at the scene how Mr. Passehl’s compassion and generosity made it easier for them to help victims during those first difficult hours.
Jennifer Hastings, Manager of the Fostering Healing and Family Connections Programs at Kids Matter, Inc.
Jennifer Hastings helps families navigate the child welfare and criminal justice systems so that child victims receive the assistance and services they need. Jennifer was nominated by several caregivers who described the incredible champion for victims’ rights that she has been for many child victims in the community. Click for Photo
In addition to today’s awards, State Treasurer Kurt Schuller highlighted the more than $2 million in unclaimed property belonging to Wisconsin crime victims. Restitution as ordered by the court is paid by offenders but is sent to the Office of the State Treasurer when victims cannot be located. If you have been a victim of a crime in which restitution was ordered but did not receive full payment, please visit the following link to check the state’s unclaimed property program: www.wismissingmoney.com or call 855-375-CASH (2274).
Last week, Attorney General Van Hollen and the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County teamed up to highlight the statewide “Pinwheel Project: Turning Toward Awareness.” This year, through a five-thousand dollar grant, the Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services has spearheaded the “Pinwheel Project” in more than 50 counties across Wisconsin. As part of the project, victim/witness coordinators statewide each received 100 pinwheels and a yard sign, as well as bookmarks and posters for distribution, to highlight the impact of crime on our state’s most vulnerable, our children. Photos from the Club’s visit to the Capitol and the unveiling of the pinwheels outside of the Club’s Allied Family Center are available at the following link: Photo Gallery