Having a voice, being heard … a vital means of communication, probably taken for granted by most.
But for victims of crime, having a voice, a chance to be heard means:
… being validated
… knowing that their feelings matter
…and, even more important, that they matter
… maybe for that moment, at least in part, as much as the one who committed the crime.
When we don’t listen, in that moment, the victims are without a voice …
… rendered mute
… without a vital means of expression
… not considered
… not valued
… not given their right to participate
… their right to be heard
… their right to find meaning
… and to know, in this situation they did matter!
Hear my voice!
Nevada County Victim Witness Program advocates assist victims of crime in traversing through the criminal justice system. We first inform victims of their rights, passed into law in California in 2008 under Marsy’s Rights.
We then educate and encourage victims to have a voice and to make their concerns, feelings and desires of outcome known to the prosecution and the court. We counsel them that they can be involved in having a voice about the charges made, plea resolutions and at the sentencing hearing.
Victim Witness is now a part of the District Attorney team after 20-plus years being under the direction of the Probation Department. This allows our advocates to work closely with and have direct access to the prosecuting attorneys. This, in turn, allows advocates to have information about the case in a timely manner to better assist our victims in the services we provide.
Victims do have a voice and we are listening.
April 21 through 27 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Together with the other members of the Community Support Network, Victim Witness is working to strengthen our families and create a safe community. Find out more about resources that support parents and promote healthy families by visiting http://csnnc.org. Should you have questions about our program or desire information, please contact us at:
Nevada County Victim Witness Program,
110 Union St., Nevada City, CA 95959
Pamela McGirr is a victim/witness advocate for the Nevada County Victim Witness Program.