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Indiana Agencies Go the Distance to Help Crime Victims

PHOTO: It's National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and Indiana advocacy organizations are working to ensure crime victims understand their rights and protections and can access services to help their recovery. Photo credit: grietgriet/Morguefile.
PHOTO: It's National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and Indiana advocacy organizations are working to ensure crime victims understand their rights and protections and can access services to help their recovery. Photo credit: grietgriet/Morguefile.
April 22, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - Crime rates have been declining in Indiana and around the nation for decades, but the impact on a victim's life remains the same.

It's National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and Adam Baker, communications director for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, said the goal is to ensure that victims know their rights and are aware of the resources available as they pursue justice and work to rebuild their lives.

"There are support systems out there that are not just going to help you with some of the basic needs but are willing to kind of go the distance with you and help you from start to finish," he said, "sort of getting you back on your feet, sort of providing that security that you need."

Under Indiana law, crime victims are to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. They also have rights pertaining to representation, protection and their role in the criminal-justice process. According to the FBI, from 1993 to 2012, the violent-crime rate fell from nearly 80 percent to 26 percent.

Baker said crime can take a physical, emotional and financial toll on a victim, as well as others in their lives - and there are resources available to help these "secondary victims," including children.

"They'll come to a shelter, or they'll come to a program with their mother or with their father, and that program will also help to work with them," he said, "whether it's through counseling or whether it's just simple support - to help them, as well, kind of gain a rebalance of life in general."

Agencies throughout the state can assist crime victims to access a variety of needs, from food or shelter to representation and compensation. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute awarded more than $16 million in federal funding last year to more than 400 service agencies for programs that helped more than 196,000 victims of crime.

More information is online at in.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN