Victims' Vigil set for April 14

The SE Texas Record Apr. 5, 2011, 6:00am

The Jefferson County Coalition for Victims of Crime will sponsor the 21st Annual Crime Victims' Candlelight Vigil, planned for Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse in the Jury Impaneling Room.

The event gives victims, survivors and family members an opportunity to share their grief and encourage one another in the healing process. This community event includes music, poetry and a tribute to honor crime victims and their families.

The event will be emceed by Misty Craver, director of Victims' Services for Jefferson County. Craver heads up Jefferson County's central office for assistance to victims of crime. She has been an adjunct instructor of Sociology at Lamar University and has given lectures for the Honors Program Seminar, "Victims, Criminals, and Punishment."

The keynote speaker is Cindy Fertitta of the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center of Southeast Texas. Fertitta's years of experience with victims gives her a special perspective on the emotional, financial, and social effects of crime.

The Jefferson County Coalition for Victims of Crime is made up of local government, civic and state organizations and individuals who work to provide victims and offenders with treatment, counseling, support and education. For more information on the activities or services of the coalition, please call Misty Craver (409) 833-3377.

Representatives from area agencies and organizations affiliated with the Coalition will be available for interviews the night of the Vigil. Organizers will also be able to arrange interviews with victims of crime who are willing to share their personal experiences.

Event background

April 10, 2011, marks the beginning of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time to honor victims and the advocates of victims' rights. This year's theme-Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past-evokes victims' past struggles and our nation's duty to help them rebuild stronger lives.

For victims, reshaping the future means confronting many challenges. After a crime, victims need to know what rights and resources they can count on. They may need funds to bury a loved one or pay medical bills. They may want information on the criminal justice process, their rights to be present or heard in court, and to be notified about court proceedings and offender's whereabouts. Yet many victims do no find the help they need.

Honoring the past also means recalling a time, not too many years ago, when victims had no voice in the criminal justice system-when murder victims' families were excluded from courtrooms and assault victims paid all their own medical bills. National Crime Victims' Rights Week honors the victims and advocates who confronted such injustices and helped produce a nationwide system of victim compensation and victims' rights. It also reminds us that failure to enforce these laws or failures to fund programs for victims jeopardize the success of these reforms.

"Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past captures the spirit and mission of National Crime Victims' Rights Week," said Misty Craver, Jefferson County Victims' Assistance Center and Chairman, Jefferson County Crime Victims' Coalition. "The past that we honor points to a future when all victims are respected, the laws to protect them are enforced, and the resources they need are in place and accessible to them. Justice demands no less."

Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Crime
Commemorating 2011 National Crime Victims' Rights Week
"Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past"

Jefferson County Coalition for Victims of Crime
Place: Jefferson County Courthouse � Jury Impaneling Room
Date: Thursday, April 14, 2011
Time: 6 p.m.

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