This week is Crime Victims' Rights Week. Every April since 1981, Crime Victims' Rights Week has been observed across the nation by victims, survivors, and the criminal justice professionals who assist them. This observance promotes and recognizes victims' rights and brings the victim-assistance community together to raise public awareness and to renew the commitment to address the needs of victims and their families.
Leading up to the national commemoration, the Department of Justice Office of Violent Crime held a National Observance and Candlelight ceremony in Washington DC on April 10th. The featured speaker was none other than famous author and investigative journalist, Dominick Dunne, whose actress daughter, Dominique Dunne, was murdered by her boyfriend, John Thomas Sweeney, in 1982. Dunne later wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine titled "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daughter's Killer."
This year Crime Victims' Rights week is being celebrated across the country with a multitude of events. In Whittier, California this past Sunday, more than three hundred homicide victim family members released doves, lit candles, and sent balloons aloft with messages to their departed. In Texas, The Catholic Charities of Dallas kicked off their celebration with a seminar to advise immigrants of the protections available to them if they become a victim of violent crime. Candlelight vigils, memorial rallies, and a host of other activities are being held in almost every state to mark the occasion.
These activities seek to remind us that crime can strike anyone at any time. Whether it's a drive-by shooting, a campus massacre, or a crippling identity theft, we are all vulnerable to crime.
The theme for this year's event "Justice For Victims, Justice For All" seeks to enforce the idea that the country's founding principles of liberty and justice for all ensures justice for each and every victim of a crime.
THE CRIME CLOCK
Consider these statistics recently released by the Department of Justice:
One person is assaulted every 7.2 seconds
One person becomes a victim of identity theft every 8.7 seconds
One home is burglarized every 9.1 seconds
One child is reported neglected or abused every 35 seconds
One woman is victimized by an intimate every 1.3 minutes
One man every 6.7 minutes
One person is raped every 2.7 minutes
One person is murdered every 31 minutes
One hate crime is reported to police every 73 minutes
When the Crime Victims' Rights Movement was founded over twent-five years ago, the idea of victims' rights was just that: an idea. We have come a long way since then. Almost every state in the country has passed laws that protect victims of crimes. Although the laws vary from state to state, most laws include the right to be treated with dignity and compassion, the right to be informed about a case's progress through the criminal justice system, and compensation for damages and financial losses. Crime Victims' Rights Week is a good time for all of us to reflect on what more society can do to help those who suffer the trauma of victimization and to effect positive change in the criminal justice system. Communities which make justice for victims a priority invest in achieving justice for all.
Statements made in this post are my own and not intended to reflect the views, opinions, or position of the Michigan Attorney General or the Michigan Department of Attorney General.