RICHMOND — This week, the Virginia Department of Corrections is recognizing Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The Victim Services Unit (VSU) of the Department of Corrections provides notification assistance and referral services to all victims of offenders under the custody of the Department.
In 2016, more than 1,440 new victims were registered for notification through the VSU. Registered victims are notified of offender transfers, work release, name change, escape, interstate compact, civil commitment, death, release, and parole events.
This year also marks an expansion of services. In the coming weeks, victims will have access to regional victim advocates directed by a Statewide Victim Impact Coordinator. All regional advocates will operate in their respective areas, and most will be housed in local probation and parole offices.
“This expansion serves to strengthen and empower victims and help them continue to recover and find peace,” said Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke.
The theme for the 2017 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is Strength, Resilience, Justice.
Additional services provided to registered victims include explanation of the criminal justice process, referrals, and the Victim/Offender Dialogue Program. The VSU also assists with victim awareness education for Department staff and impact of crime education for offenders.
This week, the VSU will offer Department staff information on local and statewide victim-related services. The VSU has encouraged facilities to assist offenders in developing posters for entry in a competition to mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Entries will be judged by how well they incorporate this year’s theme, reflect accountability, and encourage victim empathy.
“By expanding our services for victims, we are expanding and improving our ability to reach victims and their families. We’re promoting their healing and assuring them that they are not alone in their recovery from the isolation and devastation that affects so many victims of crime,” said VSU Director Wendy Lohr-Hopp.
Services the Department provides to victims help to ensure a comprehensive healing environment for everyone. The victims served by the Department depend on the appropriate custody, supervision, evidence-based programs and reentry efforts the Department offers to offenders.
Visit the VADOC website at www.vadoc.virginia.gov.