FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                OVC

SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2003                                                                                               202-307-0703



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), today presented the Crime Victim Service Award, the highest federal award for victim advocacy, to individuals from Alabama, Arizona, California and New York. OVC also presented a Special Courage Award to a domestic violence counselor from Texas who displayed extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of a violent crime.

"Today we honor those whose work too often is unacknowledged – men and women who work tirelessly on behalf of crime victims," said OJP Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels, who presided over the ceremony. "Let us all be inspired by their example and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that crime victims needs are met and their rights are recognized."

Today’s ceremony, part of the 23rd federal observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), also included awards for volunteering on behalf of crime victims, federal leadership, and professional innovation in victim services.

Service Award recipients included three people who, after family members were murdered, dedicated themselves to supporting other crime victims. Francis and Carole Carrington of California created a foundation that provides families, who have missing or murdered loved ones, resources to post as reward money. To date, their foundation has posted 152 rewards in 30 states totaling over $1,117,500. Mary Lawrence helped create and now directs a victim advocate program in Onondaga County, New York. She has also personally provided support to hundreds of family members of homicide victims and thousands of others affected by serious crimes.

Also receiving Crime Victim Service Awards were Joyce Nottingham Miller and Steven John Twist. As a licensed counselor, Ms. Miller has provided support to hundreds of victims throughout Alabama. When not at work, she oversees a 24-hour toll-free crisis hotline for crime victims. Since 1976, Mr. Twist has successfully advocated for stronger legal protections for crime victims in his home state of Arizona and across the nation. For the past seven years he has spoken across the country on behalf of a federal constitutional crime victims’ rights amendment.

Kimberley Black Wisseman of Austin, Texas received the Special Courage Award. After suffering a severe physical disability from a car accident, she overcame repeated victimizations from her caregiver. She now works with other victims with disabilities who have experienced family or caregiver violence. 

OVC presented its first Volunteer for Victims Award to Sister M. Marcian Deisenroth, RSM, a retired hospital administrator from Aurora, Illinois, who assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault when they are brought to one of three local hospitals.

"These men and women illustrate the many ways professionals and volunteers can support crime victims," said OVC Director John W. Gillis. "Whether it’s providing services to crime victims directly, enhancing their role in the criminal justice process, or ensuring that the needed funds are there to support them, we all have a role to play."

The District of Arizona United States Attorney’s Victim Witness Program received the Federal Service Award for improving victim service and notification in the 75 percent of the state that is under federal jurisdiction.

OVC 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. Mel S. Johnson, an Assistant U.S. Attorney from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, received the Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services for creating an improved criminal restitution collection system. The District of Arizona United States Attorney’s Financial Litigation Unit received the Crime Victims Fund Award for collecting $3.5 million in fines and restitution for crime victims in Fiscal Year 2002, despite being understaffed.

Held this year from April 6 to April 12, 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. On April 10, Attorney General Ashcroft led a national candlelight observance to remember and honor crime victims.

The Office for Victims of Crime provides federal leadership in promoting policies and practices that support victim participation in the criminal justice system. OVC also supports efforts to improve services provided to crime victims and to address victim needs.

More information on today’s honorees and 2003 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, as well as information about OVC programs, publications and conferences, is available through the OJP Website at and from the OVC Resource Center at 1-800-627-6872. Photographs from today’s ceremony will be available on the Website early next week.

Media should contact OJP’s Office of Communications at 202-307-0703.       

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