Safety Matters: Speaking out during crime victims’ awareness week
Our agency, along with others, recently kicked off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. It was a time for us to think about those citizens who have been impacted by a violent crime, to promote the rights of victims and the expansion of services and support them in helping to rebuild their lives.
Mary Travers Murphy, director of the Family Justice Center of Erie County, Deputy Liz Fildes, director of Human Trafficking for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Sharon Morgan, a domestic violence advocate with our office, as well as a survivor of domestic violence, and Elizabeth Obad, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving - Erie County, joined together to show our support in helping people go from victims to victors.
Far more often, we hear about prisoners’ rights. Quite frankly, I am tired of that.
I remain committed to the Constitutional treatment of inmates, but I do not believe they should enjoy a quality of life superior to that of hardworking families, veterans, retirees and others who obey our laws. But enough about prisoners; this week was dedicated to the victims, the people whose lives are often left in shambles by violent criminals who do what they feel like without any forethought or responsibility.
During the press conference, our office continued to promote the Victim Information Notification Everyday Program, through which a victim of a crime can call 1-888-846-3469 to find out whether their perpetrator is still in jail, prison or back on the street.
There is more information about this program on our website at www.erie.gov/sheriff. Travers Murphy said that the Family Justice Center has 13 service agencies working anytime together under one roof to address everything a victim of domestic violence needs to escape, from forensic documentation of injuries and the ability to file charges to counseling, legal assistance, orders of protection, emergency housing, safety planning, etc. For more information, visit www.fjcsafe.org.
Morgan spoke about her years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of multiple abusers and how she has dedicated her life to assist other victims; Fildes spoke about human trafficking and how it snares its powerless victims. Obad talked about how losing her son to a drunk driver impacted her life and how she now helps other victims whose lives are turned upside down by drunk and drugged drivers.
It was very humbling to be in the company of ordinary people who do extraordinary things, brought together by a common thread of man’s inhumanity to each other.
Obad was right: “Total justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are.” Crime victims, you are not forgotten. We are here to help you.