D.A. supports crime victims
Fifth District Attorney Mack Lancaster announces that April 10-16 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to celebrate progress, raise awareness of victims’ rights and services and stand with families, neighbors, friends, and colleagues whose lives have been forever altered by crime.
This year’s theme -- Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. -- underscores the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims, which in turn begins to restore their hopes for healing and recovery.
“If victims are to trust that the criminal justice system will work for them, we must meet them where they are–physically, culturally, and emotionally,” Joye E. Frost, director of the Office for Victims of Crime at the U.S. Department of Justice, said. “When we take the time to focus on the victim in the aftermath of crime -– to address their needs for safety and justice –- we can begin to build trust and restore the hope of those victims and their communities. We all play a role in helping victims as they rebuild their lives.”
According to Lancaster, “During the past year the Fifth District Victim Assistance Program has had approximately one thousand fifty contacts with victims of crime. A total of 94 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 our 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 (435-3386), Oak Grove (428-3213) and Rayville (728-3166) or in the Victim Assistance Office (728-7400).
“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,” Colson said.