It is my honor to officially kick off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). This year’s theme—Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.—calls upon each of us to amplify the voices of survivors and commit to creating an environment where survivors have the confidence that they will be heard, believed, and supported. Their voices matter in determining what justice means to them; in how and when they engage with victim services; in choosing to give a victim impact statement; and in participating in criminal justice system reform conversations.
We know people with lived experiences have so much to offer as they navigate adversity. They inspire and lead innovative programs and illuminate the barriers that prevent survivors from accessing services or pursuing justice. NCVRW commences today with launching one of those innovative programs in Albuquerque, New Mexico—the Youth Advocacy Corps and I am so proud to be a part of it!
The Youth Advocacy Corps is a pilot program led by the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) with OVC funding, which aims to uplift and celebrate the voices of marginalized youth in victim advocacy by providing student fellows with training, mentorship, and a paid field-placement in a local victim service organization. These young people represent the future of victim services and victim advocacy – I am excited to see how they inspire and shape the field of practice.
Of course, I’ll be back in DC in time for the 2023 NCVRW Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, April 26. There is still time to register for the vigil, so, if you live in the DC metro area or will be visiting, I welcome you to join us. We’ll hear from innovators—Anna Nasset, Jerome Brown, and Roberta Roper—singer/songwriter Kelly Jackson, and the American Pops Orchestra. It’s sure to be a moving event and a reminder of why we do this important work! There will be other NCVRW activities held around the Nation, too, and I encourage you to visit our Events page to find one near you.
OVC will end the week by hearing from survivors on important criminal justice reform issues where their voices are too often left out of the conversation. We intend to release a summary of the discussions to share take-aways with victim service providers and criminal justice professionals that inform policy and practice. It is paramount that crime survivors have a voice everywhere decisions are made that could impact them.
Finally, our Resource Guide offers many ideas to develop awareness campaigns, from posting social media content throughout the week to sharing our theme videos with colleagues and friends. Just be sure to use #NCVRW2023 in your social media content, so we can follow along! Each year, we share content from around the Nation every day of NCVRW and it’s a highlight of our week to be able share in your commemorations.
On behalf of the Office for Victims of Crime, thank you for helping to lift up the voices of survivors everywhere.