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Lynn Shiner

2004 National Crime Victim Service Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Lynn Shiner | National Crime Victim Service Award
Pennsylvania Crime Victim Compensation Program
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

On Christmas morning 1994, Lynn Shiner drove to the home of her ex-husband to pick up her two children, 8-year-old David and 10-year-old Jennifer. She arrived to find all three dead. Her ex-husband had taken his own life after stabbing his son and daughter. 

Following their burials, Shiner learned that shortly before the murders her ex-husband had been arrested for stalking a female disc jockey. Fearing for her own safety and for the safety of his children, the woman asked police to notify Shiner of his actions, but no one did. 

Unaware of his behavior, Shiner complied with the custody order granting him visitation with the children on Christmas Eve. Four weeks after the murders, Shiner worked with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Widener University School of Law to design a bill that could have protected her children.

The "Jen and Dave Law," enacted in 1996, grants a parent who is involved in a custody case the right to access information about criminal charges filed against the other parent. The law also permits that information to be used in custody decisions.  

Later that year, Shiner was appointed by Governor Tom Ridge to Pennsylvania's Victims' Services Advisory Committee, where she turned her attention to the Pennsylvania Crime Victim Compensation Program. The program's predecessor agency had been poorly managed and unresponsive to victims

Soon after her appointment, Shiner was named manager of the program and, in that role, she eliminated a backlog of more than 1,100 claims and reduced the time needed to process claims from 26 weeks to 8 weeks. Her success in streamlining the program involved an automated information system that she helped design and that was named by program staff in honor of her son—Dependable Access for Victimization Expenses (DAVE). 

She also created a direct service unit within the program and instituted consultation sessions for victims whose claims are denied, with the goal of ensuring that victims are treated with the dignity and respect. 

At the same time, Shiner began the Jen and Dave Memorial Fund. The fund has raised more than $160,000 for state and local victim services through an annual golf tournament and silent auction.