Posted Monday, April 11th, 2016
Morris County paid homage to victims of crimes today, as law enforcement, political, religious, social service, non-profit, and crime victims’ rights leaders from across the county joined forces to commit themselves to remembering the needs of those in our society who have been brutalized by crime, and who in years past had many times been re-victimized as forgotten participants in the justice system process.
At a National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 1o-16, 2016 ceremony at the County Government Administration Building in Morristown, this year’s identifying theme, “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope,” was the focus of comments.
County leaders spoke of the need to ensure that victims are well served by the justice and social service systems, and get the best help and care possible to help them deal with their situations.
“This year’s theme – Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope –underscores the importance of establishing trust with victims,” said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric A. Knapp. “Trust is of particular concern in communities that feel isolated from or invisible to mainstream service providers and the criminal justice system …. By meeting victims where they are -physically, culturally and emotionally — we can better understand their specific needs and we can help restore victims’ hopes for healing and recovery.”
“We must ensure that all victims of crime receive the support needed to allow them to begin their healing process,” said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “Each year, millions of lives are forever changed by crime. The victims are members of our families, our neighbors, our friends and our colleagues. Many will have unexpected life-changing injuries or will need ongoing care and support due to crimes committed against them.”
Other speakers included Patty Sly, Executive Director of the Jersey Battered Women’s Service, Denville Police Chief and President of the N.J. State Police Chiefs’ Association Christopher Wagner, Assemblywoman Bettylou DeCroce; Richard Pompelio, director of the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center; Msgr. John E. Hart of the Assumption Church in Morristown, and Patricia “Trish” Stewart, who retired last week as the long-time coordinator of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Victims-Witness Office.
Also, in a related event, to commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the non-profit Deirdre’s House today opened the doors for public tours of its Morristown facility, which is a refuge for the youngest victims of criminal and sexual abuse but who still face the fear and anxiety of dealing with the criminal aspects of their victimization.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week has been a time of national remembrance since 1981. It is an opportunity for communities, victims and their loved ones, and professionals serving victims to join together and reflect on the progress achieved in victims’ rights.
This year’s theme — Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope — highlights the importance of early intervention and services for victims. It also calls attention to the importance of building pathways to create an environment of trust, and re-establishing hope towards recovery.
Thirty years ago, crime victims did not have rights, access to crime victim compensation, or services to help rebuild their lives. They were often excluded from courtrooms, treated as an afterthought by the criminal justice system, and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencing. Today, all states have enacted crime victims’ rights laws and established crime victims’ compensation funds.
In honoring retiring Trisha Stewart, Prosecutor Knapp applauded the daily work accomplished by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s Victim Witness Unit in serving as advocates in addressing all crime victims’ needs.