In Life…and as it pertains to the Justice System Part I
In Life: The true measure of people’s worth is not what they say, (Words are cheap…) but what they do for you! Their acts of kindness planned or random are “the glue” in any relationship.
In the Justice System: Be aware that victim advocates have defined roles depending upon the setting in which they work. Given the variables of time and resources, they may go above and beyond the call of duty or provide the minimum services. Prosecuting attorneys don’t typically communicate much during the process. The reasons are many and varied. However, most likely, they do not share too readily in order not to compromise the investigation and trial. In addition, they don’t want to be put in the position of making promises they can’t keep! Police investigators may or may not communicate often with victims depending upon their experience, their interest in the case and their “department’s protocol.”
This is not to say that criminal justice professionals intentionally lie. However, as a crime victim, trust what is done … or not done as your reality in the process versus “what someone said…or what you heard on TV.” If you are dissatisfied, it is your right, your obligation to question and pursue additional assistance.
In Life: There are many free things in life of greater value than material goods. Happiness can be fleeting… so surround yourself with experiences versus “things.” You will be infinitely happier in the long run and leave a lasting legacy versus a contribution to a landfill.
In the Justice System: Although it has many flaws, the criminal justice system provides services at low cost-no cost to victims of crime. (Specific services may vary from state to state.)
A) A variety of support groups are available depending upon the circumstances of your crime.(Sexual Assault Crisis Centers, Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Survivors of Homicide, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers etc.)
B) Pro bono attorneys and private investigators can be obtained from your judicial branch of state government, the American Bar Association. Examples in the State of Connecticut: www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/referral.html; http://probono.ctlawhelp.org. State by State Directory= http://lawyers.justia.com/.
C) State Office of the Victim Advocate – monitors services by other agencies, investigates victim complaints, reinforces and represents victim’s state constitutional rights;
D) Judicial Branch Office of Victim Services can assist with victim impact statements , apply for personal injury compensation or survivor’s benefits, provide a limited number of counseling sessions etc.
In Life: Setting our personal expectations too high, is to set ourselves up for failure…. particularly if we also expect “X” behavior from others in response. LadyJustice has learned this the hard way… and maybe sometimes has to be reminded! Allowing others to guide you along the path with encouragement will save much stress providing that we can control our own little corner of the world… on a good day!
In the Justice System: If you “charge in like gangbusters,” demanding answers and information NOW, those who are supposed to help you may be turned off and may avoid you altogether. The best way to deal with “the process” is to educate yourself about the system and then build allies along the way. For example, California’s “Citizens Against Homicide (Assists nationally) http://citizensagainsthomicide.org/ and Connecticut’s Survivors of Homicide Inc. http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/Website/Home.htm, can be invaluable resources in explaining the process and representing your interests with various key people. Getting to know a local investigative reporter can also be an asset to further your cause, should you learn that your rights as a crime victim have not been respected or carried out.
Stay Tuned for Part II….
Donna Gore is a champion of victims rights and justice. She is a survivor of homicide and has turned her personal situations into a positive approach to life by participating in several areas of victim services. www.donnagore.com If you would like to schedule Donna for your next event, contact ImaginePublicity at 843.808.0859 or email: [email protected]
Originally posted December 1, 2011