Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And Justice for All

by Donna Pendergast

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.


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
These statistics serve as a stark reminder that none of us is immune from the specter of crime and that every crime has a victim who suffers some harm at the hands of the offender.

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.


Kathryn Casey said...

Wow, those stats are staggering. Great post, Donna.

Donna Pendergast said...

Thanks Kathryn
I thought that the stats were mind boggling as well!

Levi said...

donna, great post. The victims rights movement has been fighting a good fight! We need more people to stand up to the evil in this world, and we need more people pushing to make change. And god willing, those numbers will decrease.

Glenn Adams said...

Donna Pendergast, excellent article. The statistics are overwhelming. Thanks for giving the Innocent Victims a Voice...

Steve Segars: Boyfriend of Meredith Hope Emerson: Blood Mountain Hiker, GA,

Speaks From the Heart:

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Have you ever known:

· Someone who warmed you?

· Someone who made you lose track of time?

· Someone who made you grin at the thought of them?

· Someone who complicated the picture?

· Someone who made ‘being me’ okay?

· Someone whose touch made you tingle?

· Someone whose whisper made you swoon?

· Someone whose pain hurt more than your own?

· Someone who helped you find a better you?

· Someone who kept you awake?

· Someone who restored your faith?

· Someone who made a dress very happy to wear her?

· Someone whose eyes widen, just a little, when she looks at you?

· Someone who said it?

· Someone who wrote it?

· Someone who meant it?

· Someone who cared more about you than you did?

· Someone who could make a perfect cup of tea?

· Someone who kept you on her shoulder?

· Someone who wouldn’t let you go home?

· Someone who winked knowingly?

· Someone who looked fantastic in your clothes?

· Someone you looked forward to doing nothing with?

· Someone you studied so closely, you could paint them from memory?

· Someone who looked at you that way?

· Someone who made your words fail you?

· Someone who was your mirror image, only beautiful?

· Someone who replaced your priority list?

· Someone who knew how you liked to be kissed?

· Someone who really didn’t care who was watching?

· Someone who made the flight home the best part of the trip?

· Someone who was worthy of your key?

· Someone who was your perfect spoon?

· Someone who held you a little too long to be appropriate?

· Someone who knew and appreciated Ani DiFranco?

· Someone whose memory is as devastating as it is beautiful?

· Someone whose absence is crippling?

· Someone you can’t wake up without?

· Someone you fall on your knees to beg God for?

cp by Wolfscratch

Glenn Adams said...

Have a thousand stories to share from the CUE National Conference, Wilmington, NC, but one in particular that simply fractured my heart:

Let me start by saying that Monica Caison, is an amazing lady whose Vision began over three decades ago, which has been honed to the point of excellence! She has the ability to coordinate searches from alligator infested swamp land, to the Colorado Rockies, Ground Zero NY/NY, to Haiti.. When a victim needs help, they are Priority, 24/7-365. This includes the families. She is an absolute firecracker!

As you are aware I was an Atlanta Firefighter. I was stationed near the Atlanta Stadium in a depressed and high crime area of the city.
On November 1, 1978, only blocks from this station lived a 16 year old teenager named Donna Green. Donna was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital, to give birth to a beautiful baby boy named Raymond Lamar Green.

A Couple days after giving birth, she received a visitor; a teenage stranger by the name of Lisa, that said that her sister had given birth to a baby in an adjacent room. She said that her sister was asleep and ask if she minded if she visited her.

Donna, being polite and always open to new friendships, said that she would love to have her company. Her new friend visited her everyday thereafter.
Once Donna and Baby Raymond was released to go home, she received a knock at her door on Prior Street. Much to her surprise, it was her new friend Lisa, that had came to check on her and the newborn baby Raymond's welfare.

Donna decided to go upstairs to take a shower and left the baby in the care of her brother. Baby Raymond, got a little fussy, so her brother was relieved when Donna's friend picked him up and consoled him.

Her brother dozed off thinking that Baby Raymond, was safely in the hands of Lisa, and being well taken care of.

'Baby Raymond Lamar Green' Vanished Without a Trace that tragic day!'

Donna frantically called APD and reported the abduction. An investigation was conducted and concluded that Baby Raymond was probably sold on the Black Market.
A couple years ago, after three decades of anguish, Donna contacted APD to request a new cold case investigation. She found that there were no records indicating the abduction. As did Baby Raymond, seems the records of his abduction had vanished as well. She presented APD with the AJC Newspaper article for verification of the abduction.

Donna was reading a magazine article one lonely night, a few days ago at 1AM, which was about Monica Caison and CUEs National Conference. Donna, at wits end after three decades of searching, dialed her number. Donna, expecting a recorder on the other end, was shocked when Monica answered her phone, patiently listened to her traumatic story, and then invited her to the conference, although the registration deadline had passed. This was not the first call received by Monica Caison in the wee hours of the morning by a distraught family member.

One of the classes at the seminar was taught by renouned Forensic Sketch Artist: Diane Trepkov.
Monica arranged for Donna to meet with Diane, upon arrival. Diane extracted over 4 pages of descriptive information from Donna's memory as well as other pertinent info and had a sketch completed, which according to Donna Green, was identical to the suspect: Lisa, by the following morning.
By that afternoon, Diane had a sketch completed of Baby Raymond.

Needless to say Donna Green was overwhelmed that complete strangers would go to these lengths to locate her lost child, by a simple late night phone call...


Glenn Adams said...

To read what transpired after the conference ended go to:


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