RICHMOND This week, the Virginia Department of Corrections Victim Services Unit will be conducting activities to recognize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The Victim Services Unit (VSU) is the Department’s liaison to victims of crime. When victims register with VSU, they receive notification of offender transfer, work release, name change, escape, interstate transfers, civil commitment, death, release, and parole events. Additional services offered to victims include explanation of the criminal justice process and referrals.
“We have made significant progress in recognizing victims’ rights but also need to expand our reach to marginalized, isolated, and other victims who are less likely to seek services on their own,” said Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke.
This year’s theme for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims.
“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an opportunity to recommit to ensuring that all victims of crime are afforded their rights and receive a trauma-informed response,” said VSU Director Wendy Lohr-Hopp. VADOC has worked in 2017 to expand its services to crime victims in the Commonwealth by acquiring grant funds to hire regional advocates that can collaborate with local service providers and allied professionals”.
In addition to providing notification and referrals for victims, the VSU also oversees the implementation of the Victim Impact: Listen and Learn program and Victim-Offender Dialogue.
The Victim Impact: Listen and Learn curriculum was developed in 2006 by the Office for Victims of Crime. The 13-week program is designed to help offenders understand the physical, emotional, financial and spiritual impact of crime. The program is currently active in 14 VADOC facilities.
Victim-Offender Dialogue (VOD) provides a safe and structured pathway for victims of crime to meet with their offenders. VOD empowers victims to ask questions of the offenders and voice how they’ve been impacted by the crimes committed.
This week, the VSU is providing information regarding victim awareness and hosting a seminar for staff on Victim-Offender Dialogue. Offenders have been encouraged to submit posters for entry in the annual competition to mark the week. Entries will be judged by how well they incorporate this year’s theme, reflect accountability and encourage victim empathy. These events are part of the Department’s efforts to advocate for victims on the road toward a comprehensive healing environment for everyone.
More information on the VADOC and the Victim Services Unit can be found at http://www.vadoc.virginia.gov/victim.