Groups to celebrate crime victims’ rights law

Posted April 21, 2009, at 7:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:14 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — More than 33 million people each year become victims of crime, whether it is emotional, physical, psychological or financial.

In recognition of the affect crime has on its victims, Congress in 1984 passed the Victims of Crime Act, which affirmed a national commitment to help victims rebuild their lives and which established the Crime Victims Fund, a major source of funding for services and compensation to victims of crime throughout the country.

The anniversary of the bill’s passage will be observed during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week, April 26-May 2.

Womancare, the local domestic violence organization working to end domestic violence in the Penquis region, along with help from Rape Response Services and the Piscataquis County District Attorney’s Office victim-witness advocate, will sponsor a panel discussion at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at Foxcroft Academy.

Speakers will include G. Steven Rowe, former Maine attorney general; Lois Reckitt, a National Coalition Against Domestic Violence board member; and Deborah Shaw Rice, director of the Maine Victims’ Compensation Program.

Financed by fines and levies imposed on criminal offenders in federal courts, the Crime Victims Fund affirms the principle that those who commit crimes should be held accountable for their actions, according to Art Jette, spokesman for Womancare. He said the fund provides support to Maine and all other states for victim as-sistance and victim compensation programs, as well as training and technical assistance for the victim services field.

The fund supports more than 4,400 state and local victim assistance programs, including domestic violence organizations and rape crisis centers, victim-witness advocates in law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices and other direct service providers helping millions of victims each year, Jette said. Victim compensation programs pay for medical and counseling costs, funeral bills, crime scene cleanup, and lost wages for victims of crime.

The free panel discussion is open to the public. To plan for refreshments, which will be served from 5 to 6 p.m., those planning to attend should call 564-8165 or e-mail wmncare@wmncare.org by April 24.

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