Crime victims to get another advocate in Nevada County
After the police report is taken and the adrenaline dies down, victims and witnesses of crime can face a long road of trauma, confusion, emotional distress and re-victimization as they move through the legal system on their way back to normalcy.
Tuesday, the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office received more than $30,000 in grant funding that will allow the county to hire an additional part-time advocate for crime victims and witnesses as part of its Victim Witness Assistance Program.
The department had already budgeted for the bulk of the nearly $300,000 in federal and state funding, but with the unanticipated additional $34,000, they were able to pay for another victim’s advocate, joining the two full-time and other part-time advocate for the program.
“It’s great news,” Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said. “The more resources we have, the more we can do to help victims.”
According to Walsh, the program helps victims and witnesses of crime navigate what can be an overwhelming process.
“Historically, in the past, sometimes victims were lost in the shuffle of the criminal justice system,” Walsh said. “Prosecutors that may be well intentioned may have been too focused on their clients and cases.”
The program offers victims counseling, referrals to licensed therapists, assistance with victim impact statements, restitution assistance and court support during hearings, even when people receiving services are uncooperative with prosecution.
Its goal is to “ensure that victims and witnesses who become involved in the criminal justice system are not further victimized by the system,” according to its website.
According to Walsh, though any victims or witnesses of any crime are eligible for the assistance, the services are particularly helpful in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, injuries and homicide where victims and witnesses face severe emotional stress outside the justice system.
“Victim advocates are looking out for victims on a psychological and emotional level,” Walsh said. “They reach out and communicate with victims, make sure they stay informed, keep them safe, but there’s also the emotional impact.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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