Ottawa County shows its support for crime victims
April 26 marks the beginning of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to focus on victims of crime and celebrate our nation’s progress in serving them.
This year’s theme, “25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act,” honors a landmark of national commitment to victims of crime.
Before 1984, victims of crime received little public support. The President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, formed by President Ronald W. Reagan in 1982, found widespread poor treatment of victims by a criminal justice system indifferent to their needs. Although most states had some form of victim compensation, most programs were poorly funded. Despite the few victim assistance programs available in some states, most communities relied on a few grassroots organization- funded by sporadic private donations and fund-raisers to help victims of crime.
In 1984, moved by the President’s Task Force report findings and the work of victim advocates, Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which created the Crime Victims Fund, financed not by taxpayers but by fines and penalties paid by offenders. In 25 years, the fund has grown from $68 million to more than $2 billion and is disbursed throughout the nation in amounts determined by congress every year.
The fund supports the victim compensation program that reimburses victims for many out-of pocket expenses- such as medical care, counseling, funerals, and lost wages- that victims face in the aftermath of crime. According to Carolyn Renwand, victim advocate for the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s office, in 2008 Ottawa County a total of $27,000 was awarded to victims that applied for compensation.
It also helps fund victim assistance programs, such as rape crisis, domestic violence and prosecutor-based programs that support victims by providing physical and emotional care and guidance in navigating the criminal justice system. VOCA funds supported more than 4,400 public and nonprofit agencies serving almost 4 million victims, and paid more that $440 million in victim compensation.
To commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Assistance Program, Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center and The Giving Tree will display the Ohio Clothesline Project Thursday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Ottawa County Courthouse lobby, 315 Madison St., Port Clinton.
The Clothesline will also be displayed May 1 at the Take Back the Night Rally to be held at 7 p.m. at Waterworks Park in Port Clinton.
The Clothesline project is a visual display of t-shirts with written messages and illustrations that graphically demonstrate the impact of violence against crime victims. Survivors of violence, their families, or friends design the shirts. The purpose of the “Air Your Laundry in Public” display is to educate and bear witness to a victims’ courage to survive and heal, and to mourn those who have died as a result of violence.
The public is invited to view the Clothesline during display hours and to design t-shirts to contribute to the project. Anyone wanting to design a shirt and add to the project can bring shirts to the courthouse lobby during display hours. Shirts may also be dropped off at the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information, call Carolyn Renwand at the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office at 419-734-6845; Corrine Creedan at the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center at 419-734-3266; or Mary Kay Baumgartner at The Giving Tree at 419-734-2942.