Today marks the start of the National Crime Victims Rights Week highlighting the rights of crime victims to be treated fairly with dignity and compassion. This morning, Governor Napolitano delivered a speech kicking off a week of activities designed to highlight the needs of crime victims. In the past, crime victims did not receive sufficient information about the status of a criminal case. Prosecutors and public officials simply did not inform crime victims about criminal arrests, bail hearings, plea offers, and other important information about pending criminal cases. However, the rights of victims to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect has since changed with the passage of the Arizona Victim Rights Legislation. I have in the past discussed the prospect of finding civil remedies for crime victims. This morning’s kickoff event should serve as a reminder to all people in the criminal and civil justice system to treat crime victims fairly and assist in their efforts to find justice whether through criminal or civil proceedings.
Unfortunately, the start of the twenty-seventh annual Crime Victim Rights Week comes on the heels of one of the most sobering traumatic high-profile tragic crimes on a college university campus in our nation’s history. Governor Napolitano, representatives from the Arizona Supreme Court, the Arizona legislature and local governments spoke forcefully today about providing important resources to meet the needs of crime victims. In her news release, Governor Napolitano indicated that all state and local agencies must act to ensure that:
every individual who is victimized by a crime receives the rights, services and respect they deserve.
Our civil justice system can also act as an additional resource to provide for the unmet needs of crime victims. This week, let us pay our respects to crime victims who suffered harm or who lost a loved one, and let us hope that in times of need, no matter the forum, our society provides a helping hand.