FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           OVC

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2002                                                                                        202/307-0703






WASHINGTON, D.C. –   More than 200 victim service professionals from across the nation are receiving comprehensive and innovative training at the eighth annual National Victim Assistance Academy, sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).  As part of the training, Academy students participated today in a national satellite videoconference on helping victims of terrorism and mass violence.


“Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, we came together at the federal, state and local level to provide both immediate and long-term assistance to the victims,” said OVC Director John W. Gillis.  “Through learning and sharing ideas gained from that experience, we will be better prepared to help those victims and the victims of any future incident.”     


Today’s broadcast was transmitted to 39 downlink sites nationwide.  Many panelists recounted their experiences helping victims of terrorist attacks, including the September 11 attacks and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.  The videoconference also spotlighted resources available to assist victims of terrorism and other forms of mass violence. 


The week-long program, which concludes Friday, is being held simultaneously at the California State University-Fresno (CSUF); Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas; and the Medical University of South Carolina.  Other cosponsors include the Victims’ Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) and the University of New Haven.


The 2002 Academy class includes delegates from every area of the criminal justice system, specialists in sexual assault, domestic violence and child victimization, as well as those who serve elderly victims, survivors of homicide victims and victims of juvenile offenders.  Representatives from federal, state, local and tribal victim service agencies were selected through a national application process based on geographic, cultural and professional diversity. 


Leaders in the fields of victimology, criminal justice and victims’ rights serve as program instructors. Faculty from co-sponsoring academic institutions, speakers from national crime victims’ organizations and local, state and federal victims’ rights and criminal justice experts also participate. Students can earn academic credit in criminology from CSUF and credit in social work/criminal justice studies from Washburn University.


The 40-hour course covers over 39 different subject areas through lectures, interactive exercises, working groups, and faculty mentoring groups.  In addition to terrorism, topics include child victimization, domestic violence, sexual assault, drunk driving, campus crime, financial fraud, the link between substance abuse and victimization, communicating with victims, international issues in victim service and serving the needs of under-served victims of crime.  Participants are instructed on how to go on-line to learn about victims services at OVC’s Website.


OVC funds the Academy through a grant from the Crime Victims Fund, created by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA).  The Crime Victims Fund receives money from the fines and penalties of convicted federal criminals -- not from taxpayer dollars.


For more information about OVC contact the OVC Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872, or visit OJP’s Website at  For more information about the National Victim Assistance Academy, contact VALOR at 8180 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1070, McLean, Virginia 22102 or by phone at 703/748-0811 or 1-877/748-NVAA (6822).


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


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