National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 2-8
Strength – Resilience – Justice
During the first week of April, Arizona will mark the 35th annual observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Honoring and upholding the rights of crime victims and their families is something the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is committed to doing.
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first national “Crime Victims Week” in April of 1981 to recognize the importance of giving crime victims a voice in the criminal justice process and to educate Americans about the devastating impacts of crime on families and communities. Three years later, Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) which secured legal rights, protections, and services for victims of crime. In 1988, Arizona became one of the first states to introduce a constitutional amendment guaranteeing specific rights for crime victims. Our state also provides a range of support services, including financial assistance, to help crime victims and their families cope with the multiple impacts of a serious crime.
In 1990, Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative creating the Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights and in 1991 legislation was implemented guaranteeing specific rights for crime victims including the right to be present at criminal proceedings, to be heard in court and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
During Crime Victims’ Rights Week, MCAO will participate in two events meant to honor both those who have been victims of crime and those who serve them. The first event is a luncheon and awards presentation on April 4th at the El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium in Phoenix. State leaders and representatives from law enforcement agencies will honor and recognize individuals who have advocated on behalf of crime victims and their families. Award presenters include Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Frank Milstead, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan, and Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections Interim Director Jeff Hood.
The luncheon will feature keynote speaker Brooks Douglass, a former Oklahoma State Senator as well as a crime victim. Douglass will share his story of being held captive in his home at the age of 16 after two strangers came into his home. The men robbed his family, sexually assaulted Douglass’ younger sister and then shot all four members of the family, leading to the deaths of both of his parents. Douglass, who recently made a movie about his experience, now shares his story about being a crime victim and the affect it had on his life with victim groups.
On April 6th, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will also hold an internal Victims’ Rights Week Awards ceremony to recognize those within our office and externally who have excelled in providing services to victims of crime, helping to restore hope in their lives. Awards in six categories will be presented to individuals and groups for – Inspiration, Team Efforts, Resilience, Innovation, Collaboration and Special Service.