April 24, 2007
Lexington, Mo. — Speaking at a breakfast in Lexington to mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon today praised the courage and resolve of crime victims and their families and pledged to continue his work to preserve and expand their rights.
The breakfast brought together crime victim advocates, law enforcement officers, staff from the Lafayette County courthouse, Corrections officials and interested citizens. Bringing up the theme of the national observance, “Every Victim, Every Time”, Nixon said that law enforcement must pledge to this commitment.
“Those of us in law enforcement must continue our efforts to reach and support victims,” Nixon said. “This cannot be a hit or miss thing.”
The Attorney General said much progress has been made in the last 20 years on behalf of crime victims, but that much more work needed to be done.
“In the last 20 years, we have seen changes in the attitude of society toward crime victims,” Nixon said. “The principle of establishing and protecting rights for the victims of crime has taken root and become stronger in this country.”
Yet, Nixon said, there are efforts nationally to reduce funding for crime victims compensation. Nixon has signed on to a letter with his fellow Attorneys General protesting a proposal by the Bush Administration to eliminate $1.3 billion from the federal fund. He also said he was concerned about cuts in grants to help states fight crime, particularly because of recent increases in crime in many areas.
“Now is the time to redouble our efforts, not cut back,” Nixon said.
Nixon recognized the work done in Lafayette County by Prosecuting Attorney Paige Bellamy; the county victims’ rights coordinator, Cindy Schroer; and other local law enforcement officials, saying he appreciated the excellent working relationships his office has with them. He also took the opportunity to thank the crime victims and family members present “for the courage it takes to be here today and to speak out throughout the process.”
“To the parents, the spouses, the children, the sisters, the brothers and the friends - your testimony and your presence does make a difference, not only for your case but for others,” Nixon said. “Your courage has meant more funding for victims’ compensation, and for shelters, hotlines and counseling. It has meant more victims’ advocates in counties around the state. It has meant more rights for you to be heard in your cases.”
Attorneys from Nixon’s office work to uphold convictions in state and federal court, at times going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nixon said his own team of crime victims’ advocates would continue to work to keep victims and families informed through the long and often difficult appeals process.
The theme of the week - “Every Victim, Every Time” - summons us to advance, not retreat, Nixon said.
“As victims speak up with courage and dignity under the most difficult of circumstances, so must we renew our commitment to a more just society - one that supports every victim, every time,” Nixon said.
Nixon closed with a pledge to be with those who advocate for the rights of crime victims just as he has for the past 14 years as Attorney General.