D.A.’s office supports victim’s rights
Fifth District Attorney Mack Lancaster announces April 8-14 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to celebrate progress, raise awareness of victims’ rights and services, and stand with our families, neighbors, friends and colleagues whose lives have been forever altered by crime.
This year’s theme - Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims - highlights how the investment of communities in crime victims expands the opportunity for victims to disclose their victimization, connect with services, and receive the support they need. According to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, victims experience more than five million violent crimes and nearly 15 million property victimizations a year.
According to District Attorney Lancaster, “During the past year the Fifth District Victim Assistance Program has had approximately one thousand and seven contacts with victims of crime. A total of 71 victims registered with the victims’ assistance program. We keep victims notified of upcoming court dates of the accused, accompany victims to court, and work with extended families who are victims of violent crimes. We refer sexual assault and domestic abuse violence victims to the Wellspring and other agencies for counseling and, also, cooperate with agencies such as MADD, in cases involving alcohol and drug related vehicular crimes. We regularly review Parole and Pardon Dockets, and Risk Review Dockets, and our Victims Assistance Coordinator contacts victim’s and victims’ families for their input into upcoming parole hearings.”
Lancaster further stated the Crime Victim Reparations Fund is also available to injured victims of crime which involve force and to dependents of a homicide victim. Applications may be made through the sheriff’s office for certain out of pocket expenses, as well as emergency grants, to cover medical expenses, funeral, and travel expenses. Debra Colson serves as the Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Fifth Judicial District. She may be reached in the District Attorney Offices, including, Winnsboro (318 435-3386), Oak Grove (428-3213) and Rayville (728-3166), or in the Victim Assistance Office (728-7400).
Colson stated “Any member of the public or any victim of crime may contact my office at any time and we will assist them with victim information, and consult with them about the status of any case involving victims pending in our office.”