Environmental Crime Victim Assistance Team | 2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division formed the Victim Assistance Team in 2017 to work on environmental crime victim initiatives. This program has furthered environmental justice by strengthening tools for the detection of environmental crimes in overburdened communities, improving outreach to the victims of such crimes, and ensuring that investigations are structured to provide maximum assistance to the U.S. Department of Justice in its exercise of prosecutorial discretion and pursuit of remedies that will guarantee adequate protection for those communities.
The Environmental Crime Victim Assistance Team received the Federal Service Award. Visit the OVC Gallery for more information about her work to support victims of crime.
KRIS DIGHE: With every breath that we take, every sip of water that we drink, we all rely upon the environment.
DANIEL DOOHER: There's several statutes in place to protect the environment and to protect human beings.
WOMAN: ...was pulled out of the tank, he was overcome by the fumes inside of the tank.
MICHAEL BURNETT: Environmental crime is the knowing and intentional discharge or release of chemicals.
KRIS DIGHE: …an explosion or a significant massive event like that.
LAURIE DUBRIEL: Often, there are actual individuals who have been directly impacted by these crimes.
JOHN SHARP GREGORY: If environmental crime victims are not identified and notified and provided services, they're going to probably not even realize the harm that has accrued to them through an exposure.
MICHAEL BURNETT: Back in 2016, we realized there was a need for a program.
LAURIE DUBRIEL: Environmental crimes, unlike violent crime or terrorism or cyber crime, is not a crime that most prosecutors prosecute.
DANIEL DOOHER: The purpose of the program is to make sure that environmental crime victims are afforded rights and restitution.
JOHN SHARP GREGORY: We're bringing a more comprehensive approach to our cases and our prosecutions.
KRIS DIGHE: The Environmental Crime Victims' Assistance Program helps victims to find justice in a number of ways.
LAURIE DUBRIEL: …providing them resources, letting them understand what services are available to them. We're providing more information directly when we're going to sentencing.
MICHAEL BURNETT: We created an emergency fund to provide direct assistance for crime victims.
JOHN SHARP GREGORY: We've been able to successfully put up websites at both DOJ and EPA to help environmental crime victims.
KRIS DIGHE: There's continuous training that's available.
DANIEL DOOHER: What we try to do with the program is to help the entire community, one victim at a time.
MICHAEL BURNETT: We've created a Victim Impact Statement for environmental crime victims. We have drafted numerous versions of victim notification letters.
KRIS DIGHE: There are survivors that without support from the Environmental Crime Victim Assistance Program might have felt helpless. Our work for environmental crime victims is not a 9:00-to-5:00 job. It's a commitment that every member of the team has.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.