PHOENIX—The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) has received two Criminal Justice and Public Safety awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its innovative Restitution Specialist and Sex Assault Backlog programs.
“It is an honor to be recognized for work we’ve accomplished in these areas, and we will continue to establish innovative programs that positively impact our community.” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Restitution Specialist Program
The Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights was created in 1990 giving rights to crime victims, including the right to receive restitution. However, navigating the court process to secure restitution can be difficult and time consuming. Cases may include multiple victims, with each having their own wage loss, medical bills, property repair, or counseling fees. The creation of the Restitution Specialist program/positions within MCAO’s Victim Services Division provides assistance to victims in seeking the amount of restitution owed to them. These Restitution Specialists collect and assemble restitution information, coordinate with attorneys, victim advocates, and staff members, and prepare any supporting documents required for court.
Sex Assault Backlog Program
More than 4,000 untested sexual assault kits consisting of evidence collected from victims were identified in Maricopa County. Concerns this backlog could discourage victims from coming forward and also give serial rape offenders the opportunity to commit additional sex crimes led the office to create the sex assault backlog program. MCAO formed a multidisciplinary team to develop a victim-centered Sexual Assault Protocol for investigations, forensic medical exams, victim notification and prosecution of sex offenses. In its first year the program had almost 2,000 kits sent for testing, leading to five sex assault charges being filed and, thus far, one conviction.
MCAO is also a proud collaborator in another program honored with a NACo achievement award. Juvenile Probation’s “Juvenile Court, County Attorney, and Juvenile Probation Expedited Case Process” won an achievement award in the category of Children and Youth.
The NACo Achievement Awards were started in 1970 to recognize innovative and effective county government programs that enhance services for residents. MCAO has earned 68 NACo Awards since 1990, 14 of these under County Attorney Bill Montgomery.