FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    OVC

THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2001                                                                                    202/307-0703

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT RECOGNIZES

THOSE WHO ASSIST AMERICA’S CRIME VICTIMS

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General John Ashcroft today marked the sixth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by honoring two individuals and three organizations with the Crime Victim Service Award, the highest federal award for victim advocacy.  The awardees are from Alaska, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Kentucky First Lady Judi Patton and Oregon Judge John Collins received special leadership awards.  Susan Lawrence, a former Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) employee, received a posthumous award for professional innovation.

Ashcroft also recognized federal employees whose extraordinary efforts increased restitution to federal crime victims and deposits into the Crime Victims Fund, which supports millions of crime victims across the nation.  One individual and five teams of U.S. Attorney and FBI personnel from Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri and Wisconsin received the Crime Victims Fund Award.

“The dedication and service of the people we honor today, as well as countless other victim advocates, are making a difference in the lives of crime victims across the nation,” said

Ashcroft.  “Through their efforts, we are able to ensure that crime victims are never forgotten as we pursue justice.”

Ashcroft presented the awards at a ceremony on Capitol Hill, which was part of the

Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime’s 21st federal observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW).  Held this year from April 22nd to April 28th, NCVRW gives communities across the country an opportunity to organize and hold observances, candlelight vigils, rallies and other events in honor and support of crime victims and their rights.

Service award recipients included two women who have dedicated the past 25 years to addressing domestic violence and child abuse.  Susan Kelly-Dreiss of Pennsylvania, who grew up in a violent home, helped pass the state’s first domestic violence law and establish the nation’s first domestic violence coalition.  Dilsa Rohan Capdeville established the first child abuse task force in the U.S. Virgin Islands and advocated for legislation that makes child abuse a felony in the territory.

Among the organizations receiving federal recognition is the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, the first treatment center in the United States for survivors of politically motivated torture.  The Alaska Native Women Sexual Assault Committee, formed to address the high incidence of assaults of Native women in the Anchorage area, was recognized for its efforts that have helped reduce the number of reported assaults by 20 percent.  The Children’s Assessment Center in Houston, Texas, the largest child advocacy center in the nation, has handled nearly 10,000 child abuse cases and served over 38,000 children. 

Fund award recipients included Canella Henrichs, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who worked with the district court to amend orders for fines and restitution and track down victims owed restitution in old cases.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for

the District of Idaho’s Financial Litigation Unit used innovative asset location measures in a landmark case involving $6 million in fines and restitution to obtain restitution for a permanently disabled victim of an environmental crime. 

“I am honored to recognize the extraordinary work of these civil servants who have shown remarkable diligence and ingenuity in pursuing criminal offenders to secure criminal fines and have demonstrated the value of collaboration,” said Ashcroft. “Their efforts ensure criminals do, in fact, pay what is rightfully owed to victims.”

The Attorney General also recognized the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, which handled large case loads (more than 850 cases per specialist) and provided training to criminal justice participants, including district court judges.  The District of Maryland’s U.S. Attorney’s Office more than doubled its criminal debt collections from $3 million to $7 million in FY 2000, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida more than doubled its FY 2000 criminal recovery, from $12 million to $27.5 million.  An FBI Special Agent and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin secured more than $99,000 in restitution and fines from a defendant who willfully failed to pay a criminal fine.

OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund.  Criminal fines collected by U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Courts, the U.S. Military and Bureau of Prisons are deposited into the fund.  The fund is supported solely by these fines, which are paid by federal criminal offenders.                    

OVC is the federal government’s chief advocate for crime victims and their families. In addition to funding state victim compensation and victim assistance programs, OVC

trains those who work with victims and develops projects to enhance victims’ rights and services.              Further information about the Crime Victim Service Awardees and additional information about OVC, its programs and resources are available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc, from the OJP home page at www.ojp.usdoj.gov, or by calling the OVC Resource Center at 800/627-6872.

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After hours please contact: Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534