Yolo County’s Victim Services Program is one of 70 out of over 140 contestants nationwide selected to receive a national grant to fund activities during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The funding will help promote community awareness of crime victims’ rights and services during the week, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office announced on Feb. 22
The grant comes from the National Association of Victims of Crime Act Assistance Administrators through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).
Yolo County, in conjunction with the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center (SADVC), will use the $5,000 to run its fourth annual Crime Victims’ Tribute.
President Ronald Reagan first designated this awareness week in 1981. In its 29th year, the theme is “Crime Victims Rights: Fairness. Dignity. Respect.” The observances during April 18-24 seeks to increase public awareness of crime victims and survivors and the wide range of rights and services available to people who have been victimized by crime.
Of the 6,071 crimes in Yolo, six were murders, 60 were rapes, 125 were robberies, 762 were aggravated assaults, 1,007 were burglaries, 3,408 were larceny-thefts, and 618 were motor vehicle thefts, according to 2007 federal statistics.
“The support from NAVAA and OVC for our 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities will help us help crime victims,” said district attorney Jeff Reisig in a press release. “Members of our community are encouraged to help promote justice through service to crime victims by joining our 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities and supporting victim assistance programs throughout the year.”
According to findings from the National Crime Victimization Survey, in 2008 U.S. residents over age 12 experienced approximately 21 million crimes. Seventy-seven percent (16.3 million) were property crimes, 23 percent (4.9 million) were crimes of violence and 1 percent (136,700) were personal thefts.
In 2008, for every 1,000 persons age 12 or older, one rape or sexual assault occurred, two robberies, three aggravated assaults and 13 simple assaults. Murders were the least frequent violent victimization, with six victims per 100,000 persons in 2007.
Laura Valdes, Yolo County’s Victim Services Program coordinator, believes Yolo received the grant because of its innovative campaign ideas. Parts of the strategy are advertisements for display at the Davis Holiday Cinema Theater and billboards in West Sacramento and Woodland.
“To receive the grant, you had to tell a narrative of how the money would be used,” Valdes said. “Our campaign was interesting and reached out to major cities in the county.”
Valdes said the ceremony usually averages 100 to 150 people and recognizes those directly affected by crime.
“It pulls at your heart strings,” Valdes said. “If you come, be sure to bring a box of tissues with you.”
City councilmember and coordinator of the Yolo Family Resource Center Lamar Heystek is glad the event recognizes victims’ rights, which he believes are sometimes overshadowed by the rights of the accused.
“Working for a social services program, I see a lot of victims,” Heystek said. “Lack of funding can restrict vital services. The funding will help to preserve victims’ rights and make sure they are taken care of, while promoting community awareness during this week.”
The free event will take place in the atrium at 625 Court St. in Woodland at the Yolo County Administrative Building on Apr. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information on Yolo County’s Victim Services Program, visit click on ‘Victim Services’ under the ‘District Attorney’ section of yolocounty.org.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.