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Uphold the right of every victim, every time

04/19/2007

To The Editor:

Ask most Americans how our nation treats crime victims, and they are likely to say, "Very well." However, if you ask me, as a survivor of kidnapping, sexual assault and attempted murder (', Warren, VT), I will tell you that my experience and my rights as a crime victim have been and continue to be challenged. One of our rights is to receive 30-day notice of any parole board hearing; however, last summer I received only a 14-day notice. Yet, the agency responsible, in this case the Department of Corrections, was not held accountable for failure to uphold my rights.

Many in the victims' movement, including myself, have for over a decade pushed to amend the U.S. Constitution to include victims' rights. In doing so victims' rights would be upheld and enforceable. And although 33 states have amended their state constitution, sadly Vermont is not one of them. April 22 through 28 is National Crime Victims Rights Week (NCVRW). The theme this year is "Victims' Rights: Every Victim, Every Time." If we are to abide by this theme then we must continue to work together and uphold the rights of every victim, every time.

There are several events occurring during NCVRW to pay honor and tribute to crime victims. The third annual red flag campaign to honor sexual violence victims and their allies will begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25, at the State House in Montpelier. This will be followed by the 14th annual Crime Victim's Right Week Awards Ceremony.

We hope community members, advocates, and allies from around Vermont will join us. For more information please call the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services at 241-1250 or 1-800-750-1213.

Susan S. Russell, M.A.

Warren, VT

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