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Letters to the Editor

National Crime Victims' Rights Week — Expand the Circle: Reach all victims

TO THE EDITOR

The St. Croix County District Attorney's Office, Victim/Witness Assistance Program is observing

National Crime Victims' Right Week, April 8—14, 2018. This week is designated to recognize crime victims and bring awareness to victims' rights and acknowledge those who assist victims of crime.

In 2017, there were 1,330 identified victims and 4,278 identified witnesses within the St. Croix County Criminal Justice System. According to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, victims experience more than five million violent crimes and nearly 15 million property victimizations a year.

This year's theme — Expand the Circle: Reach all Victims highlights how the investment of communities in crime victims expands the opportunity for victims to disclose their victimization, connect with services, and receive the support they need. The theme also acknowledges the many barriers facing victims of crime especially those with disabilities, LGBTQ victims, older adults, limited English proficiency and others from historically marginalized communities. These barriers keep victims from accessing the services and criminal justice systems that can help them recover from crime. We must make a dedicated effort to expand the circle of those prepared to respond to victims and link them to the resources that can help them recover.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week offers an opportunity to renew and strengthen our partnerships, and to highlight the collaborative approaches that are integral to reaching all populations and connecting all victims with services. We are thankful for the partnerships we have with area law enforcement agencies, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Corrections, Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence, St. Croix Valley Sexual Assault Response Team, St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice program and Biker's Against Child Abuse.

Resources and information will be displayed all week on the main level of the Government Center along with a representative from Turningpoint available on Thursday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (room 1406) to answer questions, provide information and resources or meet privately.

We resolve to reach out, listen and support victims as they recover. We are committed to making our services accessible and to building partnerships across the community so that we can truly Expand the Circle to Reach all Victims. This National Crime Victims' Rights Week, shows victims they are not alone. Please feel free to visit the Office of Victims of Crime website, www.ovc.gov for additional ideas on how to support victims of crime.

For additional information about the St. Croix County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, please contact our office at 715-386-4666.

Michael E. Nieskes, St. Croix County District Attorney

Pam Bellrichard, Coordinator — St. Croix County Victim Witness Assistance Program

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