FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                OVC

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2002                                                                                                202/307-0703

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT HONORS AMERICANS WHO ASSIST CRIME VICTIMS

 

Chaplain Who Helped September 11 Victims Among Those Recognized

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General John Ashcroft today presented the Crime Victim Service Award, the highest federal award for victim advocacy, to individuals from California, Mississippi and New York and an organization from Missouri.  The ceremony was part of the 22nd federal observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW).

“We were all horrified by the terrorist attacks of September 11th and deeply moved by the efforts of those who reached out to the victims,” said Attorney General Ashcroft. “Today we pay tribute to those heroic men and women and to the thousands of advocates who labor on behalf of crime victims every day.”

Among the awardees was Chaplain Mindi Russell, Executive Director and Senior Chaplain for the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy in Sacramento, who in days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, trained more than 500 chaplains at the World Trade Center and Pentagon sites on mass disaster care.

The Attorney General also honored an organization in Olympia, Washington for professional innovation and a United States Attorney Victim Witness Coordinator in North Carolina for outstanding federal service to crime victims.

“The men and women we honor today come from many different walks of life – federal government and state government, professional victim advocates and volunteers,” added Ashcroft.  “Together, they show that we all have a role to play in serving victims, protecting them from further harm and ensuring that their rights are recognized.”

Held this year from April 21st to April 27th, 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 include three parents who, after their daughters were murdered, dedicated themselves to supporting other crime victims.  David and Ann Scoville of New York are longtime advocates for state and national DNA databases to improve the collection of forensic evidence.  Their efforts led to the establishment of statewide DNA databases in Vermont and Rhode Island, and to passage of the Federal DNA Identification Act.  Carolyn Clayton founded Survival, Inc., which provides services such as crisis intervention, court advocacy, in-home visits and group support to victims of violent crime in 23 Mississippi counties.

Also receiving a Crime Victim Service Award was Aid for Victims of Crime, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri, the first full-scale victim assistance program in the United States, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

The second Susan Laurence Memorial Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services was presented to Washington State’s Address Confidentiality Program, which ensures that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking cannot be tracked through the state’s public records.  Lynne Ward Crout, Victim Witness Coordinator for the Western District of North Carolina received the inaugural Federal Service Award for her efforts to help the victims’ families in three difficult, emotionally wrenching murder cases.

The Attorney General also recognized federal employees whose extraordinary efforts improved restitution to federal crime victims and deposits into the Crime Victims Fund, which

supports millions of crime victims across the nation. The Financial Litigation Unit for the District of Puerto Rico helped streamline restitution procedures, making it easier to collect from offenders on supervised release.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Iowa helped institute a new policy that allows victim restitution to be paid directly into the Crime Victims Fund.

The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) administers the Crime Victims Fund.  U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Courts, the U.S. Military and the Bureau of Prisons collect the criminal fines which 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 through the OJP Website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc and from the OVC Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872.

Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703. 

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OVC 02096

 

After hours contact: Adam Spector, 202/307-3912