“The overarching goal of all of victims rights from my perspective in giving victims a voice in our system, is to help people be able to find some peace after what happened to them so that you can move on from this and be productive…”
The Footprints Prayer
One night I had a dream…
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.
Footprints in the sand… not unlike the plight of a victim of violent crime…
Since 1984, Alameda County, California has had the benefit of a visionary district attorney, namely, Nancy O’Malley. Celebrating a 40 year anniversary includes combining the best of what history has taught us about the lack of voice for crime victims, the evolution of victims’ rights from a prosecutorial standpoint, the connection with non-governmental agencies; pairing with grass-roots organizations and advocates “who have been there.” However, movers and shakers, like DA O’Malley are seldom content to rest on their laurels, when there is work to be done. Cutting edge programing, stellar personal customer service from the top, and attorneys who are dedicated to victims make for a successful formula!
As for firsts, The Bay Area Rape Crisis Center, where Nancy volunteered in the 1970’s was a first of its kind in the country, established in 1971; http://www.bawar.org/about/
Alameda County initiated the first Victim-Witness Program in the country
“…Lois Haight Herrington (Now a judge) was an unknown quantity to the victims’ movement when she was appointed to chair the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982. However, a few advocates in California who had seen her perform as a prosecutor, were ecstatic.
As Harold Boscovich, former Director of the Victim Assistance Division of the Alameda County (California) District Attorney’s Office, recalls:
“I was happy when Lois went to Washington. But when she went to Washington she wasn’t going to take a job at the Office for Victims of Crime – it didn’t exist. Lois was going back to Washington with her husband. The next thing I heard from her is ‘I’ve got a job. I’ve been asked to head the Office of Justice Programs.’ And I was just elated.”
She became the indefatigable champion of victim justice, the architect of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA), and the architect of a Program Management Team for Victims of Crime that later evolved into the Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice.”
More recently, concerning restitution for crime victims….
An increase in restitution for victims through re-alignment (services offered to low-level offenders for Rehabilitation and getting them into the workforce from 2008 to 2013- over 100,000 million dollars that victims have lost and recovered through aggressive restitution of just the resolved cases! Putting the responsibility back on the perpetrator for ‘good faith intent’ and it gives the victim a sense of relief! Their Corrections Department – CDCR collects a percentage of victim’s pay accumulating to a total 20 million dollars a year from prisoners!
- Alameda County- a model for Victim Rights- even 40 years ago…. Collaboration and Unification of Services -Victims treated like “another piece of evidence” prior to hiring of sensitive prosecutors, forming the first victim –witness program and notifying families about what was happening with their cases:
- Service gaps – Try to become part of the police academy – the first place where they learn their job; they print cards for the police, video trainings, and the importance of the prosecutors role;
- Restitution 101– starting with the Office of Victims of Crime-& Victim’s Compensation Fund
- After the case is solved, the perpetrator is prosecuted and convicted, the restitution process starts by helping them keep track of expenses, out-of-pocket money is presented to the judge for restitution
- Prisoners are not mandated to work in prison –due to infringement on their Civil Rights!
- Realignment – not just a “get out of jail free card”
- Restorative Justice– What’s it about and when is it used?
- Sexual Assault Kits – the issue for crime victims, processing kits and the backlog – Most kits never get moved from the police evidence rooms to government agencies Why?
- “We realize there’s a reason to move all kits to the lab because of serial rapists”;
- The importance of the CODIS database;
- California legislation pending, giving them a time limit to get rape kilts into the labs with monies in the Federal budget and bi-partisan support;
- Government and private labs working ck
- Delilah on Lavinia Masters: Previous Shattered Lives Radio Show: https://donnagore.com/2012/05/06/in-the-face-of-sexual-assault-a-footprint-from-god/;
- Debbie Smith Act- https://www.rainn.org/news-room/sexual-assault-news/Debbie-Smith-Act-reauthorization;
- Another First in Alameda County-HEAT – Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit– A blueprint – 5 components for communities coming together re child trafficking. Bringing “neighborhood watch to human traffing- engaging the community in a very meaningful way! www.heat-watch.org;
Nancy’s Office –
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