|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||OVC||FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 1997||202/307-0703|
ATTORNEY GENERAL PRESENTS AWARDS
FOR SERVICE TO CRIME VICTIMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As part of the 1997 observance of National Crime Victims Rights Week, Attorney General Janet Reno today presented the annual Crime Victim Service Award, the highest federal award for service to victims, to ten individuals and four programs from nine states. Many of the recipients, all of whom are being recognized for their extraordinary work, are survivors of violent crime who have gone on to become victim advocates and have achieved reforms for other victims.
"I am so very proud to present this award to these men and women who have devoted their lives to making a difference -- to making positive change -- for the benefit of others," said Attorney General Reno. "Their accomplishments lend support to something I've always believed to be true, and that is that one person can make a difference."
The awards ceremony culminates the activities organized by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to celebrate service to victims during National Crime Victims Rights Week. The week, observed this year from April 13-19, provides an opportunity for thousands of local communities across the country to pay tribute to the millions of Americans who have been victimized by crime.
"Today we honor special individuals who have helped victims deal with the terrible consequences of crime," said OVC Director Aileen Adams. "Their efforts energize us to continue to constantly improve victim services throughout the country and renew our commitment to provide justice and healing to all crime victims."
OVC selected the Crime Victim Service awardees from about 200 nominations received from federal, state and local victim assistance programs, national victim assistance organizations, Members of Congress, governors, U.S. Attorneys and individual citizens.
Honored by the Attorney General were:
Editor, Crime Victims Report
5105 Scenic View
Austin, Texas 78746
Eleven years ago, Ellen Halbert was raped, repeatedly stabbed and left for dead. Following the assault, she left her job and dedicated her life to victim services. Ms. Halbert has just finished a 6-year term as the Vice Chair of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. She was one of the first victims to serve on this important board, which has oversight responsibility for one of the world's largest prison systems, including Texas probation and parole agencies, state jails and victim services. Her leadership and determination have led to profound changes in Texas' criminal justice system, including victim sensitivity training for thousands of parole and probation officers, a 30-member corrections advisory council that ensures victim input into policies and procedures and victim impact panels that help educate offenders. She is the first victim to have a prison unit named after her. The Ellen Halbert Unit is a 500-bed, long-term treatment facility for women addicts.
Mississippi Voices for Children and Youth
615 Barksdale Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39296
For the past 20 years, Sue Hathorn has waged a one-woman campaign against child abuse in Mississippi. Motivated by the memory of an abused child that she saw returned to a home where he had been beaten, she vowed to change the system and to develop services and legal protection for sexually and physically abused children. In 1984, Ms. Hathorn organized the Mississippi Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, and in 1989 she forged a partnership with the private sector that made charitable bingo funds available for the expansion of services for child victims. In 1990, she created a Mississippi Children's Advocacy Center, a child-friendly, assessment, treatment and training facility. Her campaign to fund these and other services is recounted in James Colbert's book: God Bless the Child: A True Story of Child Abuse, Gambling, Southern Politics...And One Woman's Struggle Against the Odds, which tells of a 7-year-old sexual assault victim who was afraid to testify in court against her perpetrator. Ms. Hathorn and her dog, Vachss, accompanied the terrified child. With Vachss at her feet, the first dog ever admitted to a Mississippi courtroom, the little girl testified in a loud and clear voice. Ms. Hathorn has organized many community-based service programs, including Mississippi's Court Appointed Special Advocate program, a 20-county network of specially-trained community volunteers who give children a voice in court. Through her bi-monthly digest, "Mississippi VOICES," more than 18,000 readers worldwide are kept abreast of issues relating to child protection and victims' rights, and her statewide conferences on child abuse educate over 500 child advocates each April. Ms. Hathorn, the foster or adoptive mother of 11 children, was recently described by a colleague as "the Mother Teresa of Mississippi."
Director, Rape/Crime Victim Advocate Program
730 N. Waldo Road, Suite 100
Gainesville, Florida 32641
For the past 14 years, Loretta Lewis-Golden has worked to shape the development and growth of the Rape/Crime Victim Advocate Program in the university town of Gainesville, Florida. She began as a counselor in 1982 and has served as director of the program since 1993. Ms. Lewis-Golden has provided trainings at numerous conferences, and her annual rape awareness luncheon draws attention to sexual assault victims' concerns. As a community activist she led grassroots efforts to pass a state victims' rights constitutional amendment, and she is active in victim groups nationwide. Through hours of volunteer work, she has helped to shape the attitudes and practices of law enforcement, prosecutors and the judiciary towards crime victims. Since 1985, as an active member of a county task force that develops youth awareness and prevention programs, she has been a leader in addressing black-on-black crime. She has received awards from the Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women for sexual battery prevention and from the University of Florida for her impact on preventing crimes against students. Ms. Lewis-Golden is described by her nominators as "a quiet, persistent and inspirational leader who is able to break down barriers and instill trust and communication among victims, victim service providers, correctional institutions, law enforcement agencies and the medical profession."
VICTIMS FOR JUSTICE
Janice Lienhart, Executive Director
619 E. 5th Avenue
After their parents and aunt were brutally murdered by two teenagers, Janice Lienhart and her sister Sharon Nahorney discovered that there was no organization or support network in Alaska to help them deal with their grief or the justice system. To assist other survivors of homicide, they formed Victims for Justice in 1985. It is the only organization in Alaska that provides survivors of homicide with victim services, such as crisis intervention, counseling, support in dealing with the criminal justice system and community education. Learning that they could not attend the hearing of the 14-year-old charged with their parents and aunt's murders, Janice and Sharon worked to enact legislation that allows victims to attend similar proceedings and provide impact statements at sentencings. As a result of their efforts, the Victims for Justice program has a citizens' advisory board that includes crime victims and a victim-offender mediation program that is primarily for first-time offenders. Janice and Sharon's dedication to crime victims culminated in the passage of a state victims' rights constitutional amendment in 1994.
Volunteer Victim Advocate
Genesee County Victim Assistance Program
Batavia, New York 14020
Evelyn Dillon has contributed 13,000 hours of volunteer assistance to crime victims since 1985. Her nominator wrote that she is a "pure volunteer victim advocate who will do whatever and go wherever is necessary to help attend to and help restore a victim who has been broken by crime." In 1983, Mrs. Dillon's husband became the first IRS agent to be murdered in the line of duty in Buffalo, New York. Since that time, Mrs. Dillon has provided extensive outreach services to victims in the upstate New York region. In 1987, she founded the Genesee County Victim Support Coalition and currently serves as a liaison with many victims organizations, including the Genesee County chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Compassionate Friends. Mrs. Dillon is the appointed victim member on the Genesee County Criminal Justice Advisory Council and is a steadfast correspondent with state legislators regarding the status of victim legislation in the areas of compensation, parole notification and victim impact statements. As she approaches the age of 75, her nominator calls her "a vision of hope to every victim."
PASTOR RODERICK MITCHELL
Executive Director, Exodus Center for Life
412 East End Street
P.O. Box 971
Cleveland, Mississippi 38732
Pastor Mitchell is a minister in a Southern, rural community who devotes much of his time to speaking out against spousal violence, sexual assault and child abuse. In 1995, he opened his church in Cleveland, Mississippi to a rape crisis program in need of a home. He has now expanded his church to provide services to all victims of crime through a community-based organization, Exodus Center for Life. Pastor Mitchell is perhaps best known for conducting educational programs for children -- using puppets to teach children in Headstart programs about child abuse and bringing needed information about date rape and domestic violence to youth in schools. He has implemented a violence prevention program for teenagers called "Preparing Our Sons for Manhood." He also serves as a counselor in Men Against Spousal Harm (MASH), a treatment program for batterers in the Mississippi Delta. Pastor Mitchell often speaks from his own experience as a domestic violence victim. There were many cold winter mornings when he had to flee the house with his mother and smaller siblings to hide in the cotton fields from the reach of his abusive father. One of the Pastor's colleagues indicates that "his experience as a victim of domestic violence and his deep belief in the power of education transcend cultural and denominational barriers, reaching all crime victims, young and old, as well as at-risk youth with inspirational messages that help to heal and prevent crime."
DR. ASTRID HEGER
LAC/USC Violence Intervention Program
1240 N. Mission Road, T-11
Los Angeles, California 90033
A physician, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and victim advocate, Dr. Heger founded the Center for the Vulnerable Child in 1984 and has combined the Center's work with the Violence Intervention Program at the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center to create the first family advocacy center in the nation. She is recognized internationally for her training on medical care for abused children and for pioneering the use of photo-documentation techniques for the medical evaluation of young sexual assault victims. Recently, she developed and implemented the first telemedicine project to guarantee that remote areas will have access to expert evaluations to protect the rights of victims. Dr. Heger has devoted her professional career to helping victims of violence receive sensitive, loving attention and the highest quality of medical care and forensic documentation. In response to the need for more sensitivity to spousal abuse victims among medical professionals, Dr. Heger is building the first hospital-based emergency shelter for women and children. She has been an important educator for all professionals who provide services for crime victims, including law enforcement. As one Los Angeles police captain pointed out, "In an era when doctors often close their doors to law enforcement, Dr. Heger has had her welcome mat out and maintained her 'open 24 hours' attitude. There are few people with the skills and personality needed to deal with 4-year-old victims of alleged sexual abuse and veteran law enforcement officers. Dr. Heger's ability to bridge this chasm is what makes her a remarkable woman, devoted physician, and law enforcement friend."
KAREN A. McLAUGHLIN
Senior Policy Analyst
Education Development Center, Inc.
Center for Violence Prevention
55 Chapel Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02158-1060
Karen McLaughlin has initiated a remarkable series of "firsts" in victims services during the past two decades. She was a key activist in Massachusetts' effort to become one of the first six states to establish a statewide network of victim services, and then became the first executive director of the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance, itself the first independent state agency for victim assistance funded by state criminal fines. As executive director, she awarded the first Victims of Crime Act funding to assist hate crime victims and provided funds for the first parole-based victim assistance program. Ms. McLaughlin sponsored one of the first statewide trainings on community crisis response and organized the first statewide conference on victimization of racial minorities. Simultaneously, she put in endless hours of volunteer time, much of it traveling to promote international victims' issues. She has played a pivotal role in initiating and developing an international guide for implementing the United Nations Declaration on Victims' Rights. Today, her energy is directed towards violence prevention -- an integral part of comprehensive victim assistance. Working with the National Organization for Victim Assistance, she has helped guide the field to a better understanding of the need for violence prevention strategies, particularly for victims of family violence. She is also working with her organization to respond to the needs of hate crime victims and to prevent crimes motivated by prejudice through the development of a multi-disciplinary training approach. Her nominator described her as "a pioneering program director, an imaginative and courageous state administrator, a creative force for growth, and one of the most giving victim advocates our movement has produced."
DNA-PEOPLE'S LEGAL SERVICES, INC.
Peggy Bird, Director
Native American Family Violence Prevention Project
P.O. Box 967
Shiprock, New Mexico 87420
For 30 years, DNA has provided free legal and other services to crime victims from the Navajo and Hopi nations. Through its nine offices located in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, DNA serves victims in some of the most remote and impoverished places in America. Domestic violence cases constitute nearly 20 percent of DNA's total caseload. The agency has been instrumental in the development of safe homes, support groups, shelters and crisis counseling for victims, as well as in drafting arrest protocols for the Navajo Nation police force and culturally appropriate domestic violence laws for the Navajo and Hopi nations. DNA's Native American Family Violence Prevention Project conducts community education about family violence prevention across the Navajo Nation in three states. Ms. Bird, a Native American attorney from the Santo Domingo Pueblo who has herself been a victim of domestic violence, initiated weekly women's support groups, co-chairs the Shiprock Domestic Violence Task Force and is a member of the New Mexico Attorney General's Task Force on Domestic Violence.
Attorney at Law
2029 North Third Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32250
For the past 20 years, Jay Howell has been an important advocate for crime victims in many different capacities. He began as a prosecutor in Jacksonville, Florida. As the Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigations and General Oversight from 1981 to 1983, he was instrumental in enacting landmark legislation affecting missing and exploited children. He was the first Executive Director for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has helped to recover thousands of missing children since its inception in 1984. Mr. Howell has advocated for important legislative initiatives designed to protect children, and as a civil attorney he has helped to enforce victims' rights and define the relatively new discipline of civil litigation on behalf of crime victims. Mr. Howell also is a founding member of the National Victims' Constitutional Amendment Network (NVCAN), which has provided legal advice to states and victims organizations in developing amendments that have been passed in 29 states. His nominator wrote, "Jay is truly an 'unsung hero' -- he is not doing the right thing for any recognition, but simply because it is right, and it is needed by traumatized victims, as well as by our communities that strive to promote greater safety for all of us."
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAMS, INC. (CSP), GANG VICTIM SERVICES PROGRAM
Margot Carlson, Executive Director
Christine Lopez, Supervisor
16842 Von Karmen, Suite 425
Irvine, California 92606
The Community Service Programs, Inc. (CSP) Gang Victim Services program in Orange County, created in 1990, has become one of the most comprehensive service programs in the country for victims of gang-related violence and their families. Last year, their eight bicultural and bilingual gang victim specialists helped more than 970 victims of gang violence. Counselors provide a wide range of services, including sensitive death notifications, addressing victims' safety and emergency needs, accompaniment for funeral arrangements and court proceedings, counseling, referrals and support groups. The program has a comprehensive training component for all allied professionals, including hospital staff, medical examiners, funeral staff and compensation personnel. CSP Gang Victim Services is currently developing a guidebook that sets forth services needed by gang violence victims, an underserved victim population around the country, and will provide training for other communities in implementing their protocol. Accepting the award for their agency is Ms. Christine Lopez, the Program Supervisor, whose work is nationally recognized, and Margot Carlson, Executive Director of the Community Services Program, who oversees the gang violence project and many other comprehensive service programs for crime victims. The chief of a Southern California police force wrote, "The efforts of CSP Gang Victim Services' staff in providing victim services to our community has been second to none in the nation."
Violent Crime Counselor
5890 S.W. Woodridge Drive
Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Karen Muelhaupt has been an advocate for crime victims for more than two decades. She has dedicated herself to improving services to crime victims through her work as a pre-sentence investigator for Iowa's Fifth Judicial District, as a rape counselor and currently as the co-founder of one of the most comprehensive service programs for survivors of homicide in the country. She helped develop a death notification training manual for coroners, law enforcement, prosecutors and victim service providers, and she led the development of the Polk County Homicide Crisis Response Team. Ms. Muelhaupt has set up teams to clean up murder scenes and debrief workplaces, neighborhoods and groups affected by homicide. She also provides training to rape crisis and domestic abuse workers in rural areas to ensure better treatment of underserved victims. On her own time, Ms. Muelhaupt organized the funding and construction of a doll house-sized courthouse to help prepare children for court. She has arranged for every sexual assault victim examined to receive new clothes. Despite a recent diagnosis of cancer and a rigorous treatment schedule, Ms. Muelhaupt's efforts on behalf of crime victims have remained unflagging.
VIKI C. SHARP
Pima County Attorney's Victim Witness Program
32 North Stone Avenue, #1400
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Ms. Sharp began her career in victim services as a volunteer in the Pima County Attorney's Victim Witness program in 1976. She became the first staff volunteer coordinator in 1984 and since 1985 has served as director of the program. Under her leadership, the program has become a national model with many innovative projects. The Victim Witness Program provides on-scene crisis intervention 24 hours-a-day and provides emergency services like food, transportation and shelter to thousands of victims through a highly-trained corps of volunteers. It also includes a critical incident stress debriefing team -- eight of its members provided services to Oklahoma City bombing victims. The program also sponsors a youth debriefing team that includes teenagers who are trained as peer counselors to provide assistance, under the supervision of adults, to kids who are victimized. Both of Ms. Sharp's daughters serve as youth counselors and are victim advocates -- illustrating not the cycle of violence, but rather the cycle of victim advocacy that exists in many families across the country. Ms. Sharp is internationally recognized as an extraordinary trainer on victims' issues, and she spends most of her vacation time providing training on crisis intervention skills and victimology throughout the country and the world.
AZIM KHAMISA & PLES FELIX
The Tariq Khamisa Foundation
550 West C Street, Suite 1700
San Diego, California 92101-1313
Special Community Service Award. Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix are both victims of a gang slaying: each on opposite ends of the same gun. About two years ago, Mr. Khamisa's 20-year-old son, Tariq, an art student at San Diego State University, was shot by Mr. Felix' 14-year-old grandson, Tony Hicks, who was ordered to kill Tariq by an older gang member. These caretakers of a murder victim and of an offender recognized that their whole community was victimized by the violence that had shattered their lives. They founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, dedicated to preventing similar crimes through educational programs in schools. In the victim impact forums sponsored by the Foundation, students interact with Mr. Khamisa, Mr. Felix, and ex-gang members who can talk frankly about the choices they made and their experiences in jail. These panels have made a lasting impact on the lives of the children who have seen them and have helped to provide guidance to youths on how to avoid the violence that surrounds them daily. It took great courage for the two men to come together, as well as forgiveness and compassion. In a recent interview with a reporter, Mr. Khamisa said, "I chose to react nonviolently. I realized that change had to start with me."
OVC, which is in the Office of Justice Programs, is the federal government's chief advocate for crime victims and their families. OVC administers two grant programs for states to expand victim compensation and assistance programs, as well as other grants to support innovative programs benefiting crime victims. It also sponsors training to help criminal justice officials and others better meet the needs of crime victims and their families.
OVC's activities are financed by the Crime Victims Fund in the U.S. Treasury. The Fund receives deposits each fiscal year -- not from taxpayers -- but from fines and penalty assessments from convicted federal criminals.
To learn more about OVC, its programs and resources, see the web site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/ or the OJP home page at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Or, call the OVC Resource Center at 800/627-6872.
After hours, please page Linda Mansour on 888/582-6753