PHOENIX, AZ (April 23, 2012) – In honor of crime victims and in celebration of the progress in advancing their rights, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer proclaims April 22-28 to be Arizona Crime Victims’ Rights Week, joining a nationwide effort to recognize individuals in communities throughout the country who advocate on behalf of crime victims and their families. The Governor’s proclamation was delivered at a luncheon ceremony held today at the State Capitol.
“With this proclamation, I continue to ensure as one of my missions that Arizona has a criminal justice system that is focused on justice, public safety and the rights of crime victims. I remain daily inspired to extend that vision to reach every victim throughout Arizona,” said Governor Brewer in remarks prepared for today’s event.
The victims’ rights movement began more than 30 years ago to help crime victims address physical and emotional wounds, costly financial burdens, and hostility they frequently endured throughout the criminal justice process. Since that time, victims’ rights laws have been enacted in every state. Thirty-two states, including Arizona, now have constitutional amendments guaranteeing victims’ rights.
Yet despite the progress in recognizing the rights of crime victims, these rights are not universal and are not always enforced. Only a fraction of crime victims receive compensation for the losses they suffer even though every state now has victim compensation funds. More than half of crimes go unreported and fewer than 20 percent of victims receive needed services. The victim services system remains fragmented an uncoordinated with many agencies currently struggling to remain operational in the face of budget cuts.
The theme of this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is “Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim.” At today’s ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan and Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections Director Charles Flanagan honored outstanding individuals and programs dedicated to serving crime victims within their respective agencies.
Honored with the Governor’s “Triumph over Tragedy” award was Frank Hinds, whose advocacy led to the enactment of “Jennifer’s Law” in Arizona. Named for his 17 year-old daughter who was killed in 1997 by a motorist running a red light, the law charges red light runners as criminals and provides for penalties including jail, driver’s license suspension, community service and restitution to victims’ families. Today’s ceremony also featured a keynote address by noted victim advocate Heather Grossman, who survived an attempted murder by her ex-husband and today serves as a consultant to the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice.