National Crime Victims' Rights Week
Thirty years ago, victims had few legal rights to be informed, present, and heard within the criminal justice system. Victims did not have to be notified of court proceedings or of the arrest or release of the defendant; they had no right to attend the trial or other proceedings; they had no right to make a statement to the court at sentencing or at other hearings. Moreover, victim assistance programs were virtually non-existent.
Since then, there have been tremendous strides in the creation of legal rights and assistance programs for victims of crime. Today, every state has an extensive body of basic rights and protections for victims of crime within its statutory code. Victims' rights statutes have significantly influenced the manner in which victims are treated within the federal, state, and local criminal justice systems.
Last week Arkansas took victims’ rights a step further by adopting into law the Courthouse Dogs Child Witness Support Act. This law recognizes the special needs of a child victim or witness and seeks to protect them from unnecessary emotional discomfort or anguish by providing for the assistance of a certified facility dog to accompany them in prosecutor meetings and while testifying in criminal court proceedings. Help us celebrate the furtherance of crime victims’ rights in Arkansas during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Please see the flyer below for details of one small way in which we can all give back and support victims of crime in our community.