By Alan Sorensen
This years Victims Rights Week, Victims Voices: Silent No More, emphasized the power of the personal story of victims and how their individual and collective voices have improved U.S. justice systems and made communities safer.
Among the people who share in the preservation of victims rights in Havre and the surrounding area are Roxanne Ross director of HRDCs domestic abuse program, and Hill County Attorney David Rice.
When victims speak out in their own cases, it reminds us of the personal, human suffering caused by crime, Ross said. And when victims speak out for justice for all, the end result is responsible public policy and increased services that support victims and communities who are hurt by crime.
Ross said her office operates the Crisis Hotline at 265-4444 or 1-800-640-6743, provides the safe house for victims of domestic abuse, does advocacy work for victims of crime, and provides a number of other services including domestic violence victims compensation.
If theres a crime, if they miss over 40 hours of work or they have medical bills, or something else thats a direct result of the crime, they can apply for victims compensation, Ross said. We just want to restore everything.
For example, we had a victim who had all her windows broken out and we helped arrange to pay for her windows so she wouldnt be held responsible.
But thats just the domestic abuse side of it from our program.
Ross said theres always plenty for volunteers to help with in the domestic abuse program. People who want more information or to contribute their time and talents are asked to call HRDC at 265-6743.
Rices office contacts the victims at the time that felony charges are filed against the suspect in a criminal case. Personnel venture to maintain contact throughout the case and keep the victims apprised of what is happening with the case.
Victims do get a letter from us at the beginning, explaining the charges, Rice said. And we send them a booklet from the attorney generals office that explains their rights as victims of crime, from victim compensation from the state as well as the trial process.
Both of those services were created in recent years through legislation initiated by the lobbying efforts of victims groups.
Rice also created a restitution office within the Hill County Attorneys Office.
Between January 1998 and February 1999, restitution officer Barbara Mavencamp issued 629 checks totaling $50,487 to crime victims in Hill County. Her office also collected handling fees of about $1,800 to finance her position.
Mavencamp also tracks fines and has 104 cases currently active on her books.
The Hill County Attorneys Office is located on the second floor of the Hill County Courthouse. The phone number is 265-5481