Giving Victims of Crime a Voice

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MEDFORD, Ore. – Each year thousands of people in Jackson County fall victim to crime. Suzie Jones became one of those victims four years ago when her then husband attacked her in her home.

That assault sent her on overwhelming and confusing path of court dates, therapy, moving, and medical treatments.  Even the simplest of steps proved hard to handle.

“I couldn’t even fill out the paperwork because he had twisted my hands and really hurt my hands where I couldn’t even write,” said Jones.

Jones is one of 921 domestic assault victims and 3,414 crime victims last year to be contacted and get help through the Jackson County Victims’ Assistance Program.

The program escorts victims like her through the court process, helps them obtain counseling, find support for medical expenses, and much more.

“A lot of times the victims feel like they were silenced by the crime or they’re afraid,” said Diana Hamilton, Director of the Victims’ Assistance Program. “Our job here is to give them a voice, to be able to finally say something in a safe environment to the people who hurt them.”

By giving them a voice, the program not only helps those victims recover, but also helps keep the criminals who harmed them off the streets.

“We need victims to have a voice in the prosecution to be able to prosecute effectively and hold offenders accountable and reduce the crime rate,” said Hamilton.

The program is grant funded, meaning their staff rises and falls year over year. Right now, they have six people assisting victims across the county.

Even though the program and those like it nationwide can’t save everyone, Jones says she has them to thank for getting her life back.

I thought I was facing situations alone,” said Jones. “Once you meet people at Victims’ Services, you’re not alone anymore.”

The Crime Victims’ Rights Week will be observed nationally from April 6th through April 12th.