April 24th, 2013 – A Lifetime Between Victim Impact Statements
One need only to read a sampling of my voluminous collection of blogs, 400 since 2010, mostly on various topics of crime, to know what I had learned in the intervening years since my initial victim impact statement. Read Part I In the Beginning…..for a synopsis of my experience.
I will list just some of the important differences in the timing and circumstances that served to shape this second experience of victim impact statement delivery:
- During the first reading, I truly felt that I was a crime victim whereas I was definitely a survivor of crime during the second opportunity.
- I had the benefit of many years of experience with other families and the fine legal and advocacy counsel of Michelle S. Cruz
- I had the benefit of time, which shapes a different perspective, different priorities
- The impact statement was delivered in a different setting to a team of people as parole hearing officers versus a judge
- We were able to “have my Father present visually” with custom made photos on easels contributed much to present the murder victim as a true human being.
- Several additional family members were present in the tiny room to provide their own statements and support
- There was the presence of TV monitors with the perpetrator participating from prison and his father in another location with several of us crammed into a tiny hearing room. We looked for any sign of recognition or remorse … There was none.
- I was so very proud of my mother, in particular, who had sacrificed so much and tearfully delivered her statement with strength and courage
- The fact that the perpetrator should never have been eligible for parole with additional evidence of serious violence while incarcerated coming to light, served to motivate us to do our very best to eliminate the possibility of freedom
- We were able to do a podcast preparing for a victim impact statement – both before and after the fact regarding the outcome which provided tremendous validation that we were on top of our game regarding victim’s rights versus those in charge
- There were innumerable failures to inquire, educate and assist by the assigned parole victim advocate, and a near cancellation due to lack of the required parole officials, served to fuel the fire for justice
- The fact that we were not initially afforded anonymity, nor our rights as crime
victims. It was only with herculean effort and skill by Atty. Michelle S. Cruz that we accomplished that and more!
- Ironically, our hearing was scheduled during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (Pre-determined by God, no doubt)
It’s all about Style Content and Delivery, Man!
My Second Victim Impact Statement was longer, bolder, expansive in content, well written and truly painted a complete picture. For example, I asked for all the time I needed, I skillfully prepared packets of information about my father and a sampling of blogs I had written. I posed questions to the hearing officers, challenging them, but respectfully asking for answers (I received no answers, no communications directly or indirectly from anyone affiliated with the Parole Board.
The main focus of my statement was to literally provide powerful images I had never forgotten all of these years. Rather than list the usual life milestones my father missed, I detailed accomplishments of which he would be most proud. I painted an accurate portrait of the pathetic, unremorseful, indifferent career criminal before us, who didn’t know us from Adam and whose attorneys had not bothered to sufficiently prepare. I recommended what I thought would be a just outcome.
Finally, I ended with, “There are only two ways to look at the future, with fear or hope. I chose hope for all survivors of crime. I refuse to be a victim, but am proud to be as survivor.”
Donna Gore created a service program for crime victims and offers her assistance in creating a cohesive victim impact statement tailored to the individuals and their cases. If you need her assistance, or would like to consult with her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Donna only accepts cases from families of homicide victims, as that is her area of expertise. She does not work in the field of intimate partner violence and cases concerning divorce or custody issues.