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1996 Victim Service Awardees


Survivors of Homicide Victim
Louisville, Kentucky

Mr. and Mrs. Byron's daughter--Mary--was murdered on her 21st birthday by a former boyfriend the day after he posted bail on a charge of raping her. Mary had asked to be notified of his release since she had been stalked by him and feared for her life. No notice was provided. After Mary's murder, the Byrons committed their lives to ensuring that victims throughout their state would be notified regarding the release of their offenders. Their dedication and advocacy led to the development in Louisville of the VINE system which stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday. The system allows victims to register anonymously and be notified by a computerized call-back system upon the release of a specific inmate. On March 25, 1996, the Governor of Kentucky signed legislation enacting this system statewide.

Kentucky governor Parul Patton recently said about the Byrons: "Their courageous leadership in Kentucky paves the way for other states to adopt similar notification systems that will save countless lives."

Founder, Mothers of All Children
Brooklyn, New York

During the past eight years, Frances Davis has survived extraordinary tragedy. In separate incidents in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York, each of her three sons was killed by gunfire. Ms. Davis turned her pain into service, and in 1993 created her own all-volunteer organization called Mothers of All Children. Ms. Davis recruits, trains, and inspires her volunteers, who then provide other survivors of homicide victims with bereavement counseling. They also help organize community violence prevention activities such as "Shoot Hoops, Not Guns"--basketball tournaments for youth. Frances Davis deals with her grief and her loss by continuing to participate on victim impact panels before young people at high schools and detention centers throughout the northeast. She is a national role model for other crime victims whose powerful stories can be part of stopping the cycle of youth violence.

Her nominator Dr. Lucy Friedman said, "Frances has helped lead other survivors out of despair and shown them how advocacy can provide a constructive channel for their rage. I have no doubt that the work she as done with kids has saved many lives."

Associate Professor of Psychology
Eastern Kentucky University

In 1983, Dr. Mercer was hit by a drunk driver. In the years that followed the crash, Dorothy was forced to begin her Ph.D. work in counseling psychology over again because of the severe brain injury caused by the crash. Dr. Mercer has become a nationally-recognized trainer and consultant on crime victims' issues, particularly related to drunk driving and closed head injuries. Her pioneering research on the results of victims serving on impact panels confirmed the beneficial effects for both the victims and the offenders who participate. Dr. Mercer's writings, including a brochure, "Don't Call Me Lucky," which is an account of her own personal struggle, and a book, Injury: Learning to Live Again, have inspired many victims to make the transition from victim to survivor to victim advocate.

According to the Director of Victim Services for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Janice Lord, "Dr. Mercer, through her writings, training, and personal example, has influenced thousands of victims and advocates over the last decade. Her writings will continue to be valuable forever."

Director, Healing Hearts
Lame Deer, Montana

Shirl Pinto was a witness to family violence as a child on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Lame Deer, Montana. For 16 years, she has been serving her people, first as a Head Start teacher and now as the director of Healing Hearts, a domestic violence program. Healing Hearts serves approximately 35 women and children each month, and Shirl Pinto is the only paid staff. Ms. Pinto is on call for victims of domestic violence seven days a week, 24 hours a day. She routinely responds to police calls late at night, drives victims over 100 miles to the nearest shelter, incurs personal expenses to buy them meals or other necessities, and often shares her own home with them. One volunteer noted that the whole community counts on her. Ms. Pinto also is a forceful voice in Montana for the needs of Native American crime victims and is working for stronger domestic violence laws within the Northern Cheyenne tribe. statewide, Healing Hearts has established a network with other Indian reservations in Montana, sharing information and assisting women from other tribes.

Says Montana Attorney General Joe Mazurek, "her greatest accomplishment is the women she has helped.. those who are able to now support others and donate their time to the Healing Hearts program."

Founder and Executive Director
Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services (ADWAS)
Seattle, Washington

More than twenty-five years ago Marilyn Smith, deaf since the age of six, was brutally raped. With no services for the hearing impaired, her recovery was long and lonely. Honoring a vow she made to herself, Ms. Smith has worked since 1980 to provide deaf women and children who have been violently assaulted access to a supportive healing environment where they could receive understanding and appropriate services. In 1986, Ms. Smith founded the Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services (ADWAS) which operates a 24-hour crisis line, provides safe homes for battered women, and offers counseling to sexually abused deaf children. ADWAS's mission is unique in this country and probably the world. Through Marilyn Smith's leadership, her program has developed training for deaf and hearing crime victim service providers, and also provides materials such as "Sexual Assault, It Happens to Deaf People Too," "Domestic Violence, Deaf People are Hurt Too," and "Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape, What Deaf Teenagers Should Know" to victims and service providers.

Says Wendy Reed, the former President of ADWAS, "Marilyn is definitely a pioneer -- a deaf woman in the hearing world, fighting for and winning equal and accessible services for deaf victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault."

Marilyn has also been chosen as one of the "community heros" to carry the Olympic Torch as it goes across America this spring! We'll be watching you, Marilyn, and cheering you on!!

Program Coordinators
Los Angeles and Oakland, California

Four years ago, in an effort to reduce the epidemic of violence among youth, Teens on Target was created in collaboration with municipal, public and private agencies within the Cities of Oakland and Los Angeles, California. Teens on Target organizes gunshot victims, many of whom are paraplegic, to address the consequences of violence, to speak at schools, and to counsel other shooting victims. The victims use their leadership skills to encourage other victims not to seek revenge, but instead to seek nonviolent solutions. Their workshops reach over 4,000 young people each year. Two youth leaders, Fidel Valenzuela who heads Teens on Target in Los Angeles and Sherman Spears, the project coordinator in Oakland, have been selected to receive the Crime Victim Service Award on behalf of Teens on Target.

In his nomination letter, the Mayor of Oakland, Elihu M. Harris, stated that,"Mr. Spears and Mr. Valenzuela, survivors of two of this country's most violent neighborhoods, are now using their energy, talent, and leadership skills to help other children escape violence."

Director of Public Policy
National Victim Center

David Beatty's name is synonymous with national leadership in public policy to benefit crime victims. During the past ten years, his work at the National Victim Center has focused on providing policy makers, service providers, and other victim advocates with information, training, and hands on consultation in the fight to legally establish victims rights at the state and national levels. For example, Mr. Beatty instituted a legislative database of more than 27,000 victims' rights statutes, the only comprehensive compilation of victim legislation in the U.S. He has also helped crime victim advocates organize successful constitutional amendment campaigns in many of the 20 states which have enacted an amendment. His pioneering work in civil legal remedies includes developing a civil legal remedies resource center for crime victims, with a directory of attorneys to assist them, and co-authoring the innovative Civil Justice for Crime Victims Training Curriculum, which is used nationwide.

Victim advocate Roberta Roper, whose daughter was a homicide victim, pays the highest tribute to David when she notes, "Honoring David with this national recognition is a way for all crime victims, like myself, to thank him for his gift of effective advocacy for all of us."

National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center
Medical University of South Carolina

For two decades, Dr. Best, through her teaching, clinical supervision, academic research, and publications, has helped to shape compassionate public policy and greatly improve training programs for rape crisis counselors, police, physicians, military personnel, and others who work with sexual assault victims. Dr. Best created the nation ' s first multi-disciplinary assistance program for hospitalized crime victims, and pioneered research in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She served as a co-nvestigator for the national study, "Rape in America: A Report to the Nation," which was a groundbreaking study documenting the extent of violence against women, particularly adolescents. Dr. Best, a Commanding Officer in the Naval Reserve, has been an outspoken advocate and trainer for victims' rights within all branches of the military, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Women which advises Secretary of Defense William Perry.

Said Senator Hollings, "For more than 20 years, Connie has fought with great heart and courage on behalf of violent crime victims...Without the dedication shown by Connie and those like her, people in my hometown and across the nation would be considerably worse off. She has earned this top Justice award."

HEIDI HSIA, Ph.D. (Pronounced Shaw)
Division of Services for Victims
and Their Families
Montgomery County, Maryland

For the past ten years, Dr. Heidi Hsia has been the Director of the Division of Services for Victims and Their Families for Montgomery County in Maryland. Her work has had a dramatic impact upon improving crime victims' rights and services throughout Maryland. Dr. Hsia was an important leader in increasing the rights of sexual assault victims to receive HIV information; passing a bond to support domestic violence centers; and producing an educational program in Spanish on legal options of abused women. On the national level, Dr. Hsia is a noted trainer on multicultural issues. In 1989, she planned the first judicial education program on Minority Women as Crime Victims, and for over ten years has trained people on the needs of Asian crime victims, including abuse among the Asian elderly, and cultural barriers in the criminal justice system. On the international level, Dr. Hsia has served as a consultant to the United Nations Development Program.

Says Nominator Dr. Illeana Herrell, "Dr. Hsia has creative ideas, academic credentials, and an impressive list of publications, but what is most worthy of recognition is the energy and patience that she has devoted to inspiring her own staff, municipal leaders, and other members of her community to work as hard as she has to enhance victim services and establish victim rights."

BARBARA J. HART, Legal Director
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

For over twenty years, Barbara Hart has been a leader in the fight to provide greater protections to battered women and their children. She has helped to create numerous organizations across the nation that advocate for increased safety for victims of domestic violence, including the Women's Legal Clinic at George Washington Law School; the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the first statewide domestic violence coalition in the nation; the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and the Leadership Institute for Women, which designed a training curriculum for lay and professional women aimed at ending violence against women. Ms. Hart has conducted studies and written position papers, model policies, and protocols that have dramatically influenced public policy on violence against women in Pennsylvania, nationally, and internationally. In nominating Barbara Hart, Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., the Pennsylvania Attorney General said, "Barbara Hart has been a central catalyst for much of the creative and critical thinking that has been invested over the last twenty years in reducing violence against women. The impact of her involvement on the lives of domestic violence victims is immeasurable but there is no doubt that her efforts have laid the foundation for much of the important reforms that have been achieved."

JERRY TELLO (pronounced Tayo)
Project Coordinator
The California Consortium of Child Abuse Councils

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Una Familia Buena y Sana" (A Strong and Healthy Family) is no ordinary theatrical presentation. An unprecedented drama dealing with a subject that is often taboo among Latinos, the play is about a family's ordeal when they discover that their children have been sexually abused by a relative. Jerry Tello, a psychologist who is credited nationally with creating model prevention programs, developed the project after he reviewed child sexual abuse prevention programs and found that "there was nothing available for Latinos, nothing culturally sensitive or linguistically relevant." The play, which was viewed by thousands of school children, is just one example of Jerry Tello's contributions. over the past twenty-four years, Mr. Tello has worked in Los Angeles to help victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and family violence, particularly within the Latino community. He has pioneered programs in detention facilities to help break the cycle of violence. Mr. Tello has a statewide and national reputation for excellent and innovative training on these issues, and many of his written works are in both English and Spanish. Jerry Tello was one of the first and only males to work at the East Los Angeles Rape Hotline. His expertise regarding multi-cultural issues and Latino males have made him a valuable asset to the California Youth Authority's Gang Violence Reduction Project. He was also the lead consultant for the innovative Young Men as Fathers Parenting Program designed for incarcerated delinquents and co-authored the Preparing for Positive Parenting program for paroled young felons. These two programs are widely acknowledged to be groundbreaking in helping to prevent the cycle of violence. He presently is co-chair of the National Compadres network, an organization that promotes the positive, responsible involvement of Latino males in their family and community.

Says Walt Jones, Program Manager for the Young Men As Fathers Program, "Jerry was brave enough in the mid-1970's to confront the secret of sexual violence in his community, and he continues to be a powerful voice against violence and for strong, caring families."

Date Created: June 3, 2020