Melissa Pennachi & Erin Connelly, Victims Rights Task Force Co-Chairs
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 24 - 30, 2022. Every year, millions of Americans are affected by crime. Many will need ongoing care and resources. Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a time to celebrate the progress achieved, raise awareness of victims’ rights and services, and stand with our families, neighbors, friends, and colleagues whose lives have been forever altered by crime. We resolve to help them find their justice and forge new healing pathways. This year’s theme—Rights, access, equity, for all victims— spotlights victim service organizations’ best practices to reach all victims and help them forge new healing pathways.
We have come a long way toward establishing and safeguarding victims’ rights. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the American criminal justice system was primarily concerned with protecting the constitutional rights of the accused. The victims themselves were minor players in the legal drama. Since the 1980s, victims’ rights and services have expanded. In 1992 Governor Castle signed the Delaware Victims’ Bill of Rights into law. The underlying premise of the legislation states victims should have the right to be treated with respect and compassion, to be informed about and involved in the criminal justice process, to be protected from harm and intimidation, and to be provided fair information and notice concerning the criminal justice process.
Every year the Delaware Victims’ Rights Task Force recognizes Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year, the week will be recognized with virtual activities as well as in-person events. The task force has partnered with local libraries in Wilmington, Newark, Bear, Dover, and Milford to have resource tables during the week to bring awareness to local resources available to crime victims. Additionally, Governor Carney has signed a Proclamation declaring the week of April 24th as Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The Governor’s recorded statement and proclamation signing will be shared on the VRTF’s Facebook page. The task force will also share a video from a survivor that will explain how the crime has impacted their life. We will highlight local agencies that provide services to victims in an effort to bring more awareness to resources. For more information about Crime Victims’ Rights Week and the Victims’ Rights Task Force, please visit www.facebook.com/delVRTF or email delVRTF@gmail.com.
Helping survivors find their justice means enforcing victims’ rights, listening to and making victims’ needs and wishes a priority, and providing victims with access to the resources and services that can help them heal. We commit to enforcing victims’ rights, expanding access to victim services, and providing equity and inclusion for all. This National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, shows victims they are not alone.