Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office will kick off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by unveiling a new 30-minute video and an updated website focusing on the needs of crime victims.
“Serving the needs of crime victims in this high-tech, fast-moving environment is a challenge. Sometimes victims need answers after regular work hours. The website and the video provide new forums to help victims and their surviving family members. It allows them to get answers when they cannot pick up a phone and reach someone, ’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray.
An open house is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. The event will be held on the 14th floor of the Leroy Smith Building located at 50 West Market Street in Newark. Essex County officials, law enforcement professionals and office staff will be on hand.
National Crime Victims’ Right Week is an annual observance recognizing crime victims and those who serve them. This year’s theme for the national observance is “New Challenges, New Solutions.’’
It reflects the increasingly complex mission of victims and their advocates today, according to Pamela McCauley, coordinator of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Victim-Witness Advocacy Unit.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has the oldest and most active Victim-Witness Advocacy Unit in the state. Started 31 years ago, last year the Victim-Witness Unit served 13,352 victims. The unit provides assistance with medical and mental health compensation, criminal justice orientation, transportation, property return, childcare, crisis intervention, and social service referrals. Specially trained victim advocates offer resources and alternatives to help victims cope with the trauma associated with violent crime.
When the Unit was established victims had very few rights. It has grown as the rights of victims have been expanded by legislation, court rulings and an understanding in society that those who are traumatized by crime need special support to navigate through the criminal process, McCauley said.
Nationwide there are over 30,000 federal and state laws that define and protect the rights of crime victims. Thirty-two states, including New Jersey, afford constitutional protections to crime victims. Every state has a victims’ compensation program to ease the financial burdens experienced by crime victims.
Members of the press are welcome. For further information, please contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy at 973-621-4687 or 621-4707 Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m.