April 22, 2020
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by reminding victims and their families of the resources available to them.
“As prosecutors, we speak for crime victims and their families,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “It’s our legal and moral duty to advocate for the only people in the criminal justice system who did not choose to be part of the process: the victims.”
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is observed annually by the U.S. Department of Justice, is April 19-25 this year.
The District Attorney’s Office works hard to help, comfort and seek justice for the victims of crime in Harris County.
“They deserve the dignity of due process and justice; that is at the core of everything we do,” Ogg said. “My promise to them, to you– and the countless victims that remain nameless – is justice.”
The Victim Services Division of the District Attorney’s Office coordinates resources for victims, including:
- Case Status: Provide on-going, up-dated case status information.
- Criminal Justice System Information: Explain court dates and procedures.
- Crime Victims Compensation Program: Provide information and assist victims of violent crime with completing and filing applications for compensation and emergency funds in qualifying cases.
- Victim Impact Statements: Provide information and assist victims of violent crime in completing a Victim Impact Statement.
- Referrals: Direct victims to community resources and social services.
- Court Accompaniment: Accompany victims to court upon their or the prosecutor's request.
- Transportation Assistance: Provide bus passes to assist in transportation to court.
- Animal-assisted Advocacy Program: Provide animal-assisted victim advocacy using dogs who have been trained to work as emotional support dogs during crisis response.
Since Ogg took office, the Victim Services Division has been expanded with a focus on increasing the number of Victim Assistance Coordinators and leveraging technology to reach more people more efficiently.
Historically, the division has had 4 to 6 coordinators. That number has been expanded to 23 coordinator positions. Currently 16 of coordinators are bilingual and speak Spanish and English.
“Every victim deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Assistant District Attorney Celeste Byrom, Director of Victim Services. “We are here to be an advocate and help crime victims navigate the criminal justice system, providing them important updates about their case.”
Over the past 12 months, we assisted over 14,000 individual victims (14,716 according to our grant reporting). Before the division was expanded, 1,242 individuals received help over a similar time frame.
Victim Assistance Coordinators now reach out to victims via phone and email as soon as a case is filed to provide a variety of services including informing victims of their rights, to provide victims with the opportunity to fill out a Victim Impact Statement, to assist with applying for Crime Victims Compensation, to make referrals to community partners, and to provide criminal justice information.
For more information, including videos explaining the process in English and Spanish, visit: https://www.harriscountyda.com/victim-services-division