DOJ Press Release letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 8, 2005
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Joan LaRocca
Phone: (202) 307-0703
TTY: (202) 514-1888

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO R. GONZALES HONORS RECIPIENTS OF THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS AWARDS AND ANNOUNCES $542 MILLION TO SUPPORT VICTIMS OF CRIME

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today honored recipients of the 2005 National Crime Victims' Rights Week Awards and announced more than $542 million to support crime victims through compensation and assistance programs providing crisis intervention, counseling, emergency shelter, funeral and burial costs, lost wages or loss of support, and criminal justice advocacy.

     This year's National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 10 - 16, commemorates its 25th observance and pays tribute to President Ronald Reagan, who declared the first National Crime Victims' Rights Week in 1981. Mrs. Nancy Reagan issued a public letter in honor of her husband's contributions to crime victims' rights and to commemorate the observance. National Crime Victims' Rights Week is sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).

     "The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that justice for crime victims is valued first and foremost, and that the rights of victims are protected," said Attorney General Gonzales. "For the last 25 years, we have struggled to ensure our justice system is swift and sure, and our outreach to victims is compassionate and comforting. Today, we celebrate the extraordinary progress we've made together in giving victims a voice in our system of law."

     Attorney General Gonzales led the national awards ceremony, presenting awards to 15 recipients in six categories. National Crime Victims' Rights Week Awards honor those whose outstanding work on behalf of crime victims has earned them the esteem of their colleagues in the victim service and criminal justice fields. The recipients, nominated by their colleagues and approved by the Attorney General, are:

Crime Victim Service Award: Honors extraordinary efforts in direct service to crime victims. Recipients: Steve Derene, Madison, Wisconsin; Marcella Leach, Malibu, California; Patricia McGeshick, Poplar, Montana; and Linda Stephens, West Chester, Ohio.

Special Courage Award: Recognizes extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of a crime or a courageous act on behalf of a victim or potential victim. Recipient: Debbie Smith, Charles City, Virginia.

Crime Victims Fund Award: Recognizes outstanding work in pursuit of federal criminal offenders and in the collection of fines, penalty fees, forfeited bail bonds and special assessments that constitute the Crime Victims Fund. Recipients: U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho, Financial Litigation Unit; and the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Illinois Operation Headwaters Team-comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service.

Federal Crime Victim Service Award: Honors exceptional contributions and extraordinary impact on behalf of victims in Indian Country, on military installations, in national parks, or other areas governed by federal jurisdiction. Recipients: Bruce Smith, Dublin, California; Mary Jo Speaker, Muskogee, Oklahoma; and Kathryn McKay Turman, Washington, D.C.

Professional Innovation in Victim Service Award: Recognizes the development of effective methods for expanding the reach of victims' rights and services. Recipients: Doug Beloof, Portland, Oregon; and the Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Volunteer for Victims Awards: Honors uncompensated efforts to reach out to victims. Recipients: Donna Ferres, Fort Myers, Florida; Louverta Jane Connor Frink, Shallotte, North Carolina; and Stanley and Phyllis Rosenbluth, Arlington, Virginia.

Descriptive narratives about the award recipients can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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     The victim assistance and victim compensation awards are funded by the Crime Victims Fund, which is derived from fines, penalty assessments, and bail forfeitures collected from convicted federal criminals. Victim compensation programs provide reimbursement to, or on behalf of, crime victims for crime-related expenses such as medical costs, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages or loss of support. State victim assistance programs fund local victim assistance services such as crisis intervention, counseling, emergency shelter, and criminal justice system advocacy. Since 1985, the Crime Victims Fund has provided over $6 billion to support victim assistance and services.

     The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed initiative and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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