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Constable's Notebook - April 2006 SE

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 23 through the 29th. The national theme for 2006 is Victims’ Rights: Strength in Unity. The focus for Austin/Travis County is Reporting Acts of Abuse, Neglect, and Violence.

Locally, the Austin/Travis County Victim Services Task Force will be hosting a national Crime Victim’s Week Kick-off event on Friday, April 21 at 8:15 a.m. on the south steps of City Hall. The event will feature speakers from the City of Austin, Travis County and representatives from non-profit organizations that provide necessary services for crime victims and their families. All victims, victims’ advocates, and concerned citizens are encouraged to come show their support for victims and their families, as well as help raise awareness of victims’ rights.

All people in our community are at risk of victimization. However, there are certain groups that are at higher risk for experiencing violent crime, specifically, persons with disabilities, the elderly, immigrants, children, persons with mental health issues, persons who are socially isolated or under the influence of drugs/alcohol, and animals. Victimization costs individuals and society billions of dollars each year in health services and absenteeism from work, and diminishes the quality of life for all residents.

In 1989, Texas voters passed a constitutional amendment giving Texas victims the right to participate in the criminal justice process, including the right to complete a victim impact statement. The Crime Victims Compensation Program, managed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, reimburses out-of-pocket expenses to victims of violent crime and their families. The Crime Victims' Compensation Fund helps eligible victims pay for medical and counseling bills incurred because of the crime and can help families cover the cost of the funeral for a loved one who has been killed. Crime Victims’ Compensation Program can be reached at 936-1200 or www.oag.state.tx.us.

More information regarding National Crime Victims’ Week and associated local events, may be obtained at www.atcvstf.org.

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