Honoring crime victims

Canadian County to host annual vigil at courthouse April 9

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Yukon Newspaper, Yukon Progress

Canadian County District Attorney Mike Fields and the DA’s office will host its annual crime victims’ vigil on April 9 to commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

“According to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, more than 5 million people in the U.S. are victims of violent crime and nearly 15 million people are victims of property crime each year. Crime is no respecter of persons—it impacts every aspect of our society,” Fields said.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a time to commemorate the advancement of victims’ rights and highlight issues surrounding victimization.

“The vigil gives us an opportunity to look back at how far we’ve come, but it also motivates and inspires us to do more. There are many crime victims who are struggling and there are many more who haven’t come forward. Crime Victims’ Rights Week is one way to raise the level of awareness to the plight of all victims,” Fields said.

This year’s theme is “Expand the Circle: Reach all Victims.” Fields said this theme emphasizes the need to expand opportunities for victims to disclose their victimization, connect with services, and receive the support they need. The theme also acknowledges the many barriers facing vic­tims of crime especially those from historically marginalized communities.

“Crime can change someone’s life in an instant. There are so many victims who find themselves on difficult journeys that were not of their choosing. They were victimized and all too often, they feel isolated and alone. This year’s theme pushes us to reach out to more people and groups to help victims understand they are not alone. There is help and hope,” Fields said.

The District Attorney’s 26th annual Crime Victims’ Vigil will once again highlight the week’s activities. This year’s vigil will be held 6 p.m., Monday, April 9, at 6:00 p.m. at the Canadian County Courthouse, Courtroom #1, in El Reno.

“We have many community partners who have worked hard to make this event special and we hope that everyone will join us,” Fields said.

The featured speaker is Tonia Byers, a child sex abuse survivor with a compelling story of how she was able to overcome and even help other victims. She has written poetry about her experiences. The vigil will conclude with the speak-out portion of the program in which any victim who chooses to do so will have an opportunity to address the audience.

Fields pointed out that these local events are part of a wider effort to bring more attention to victims’ rights, a movement that has come a long way in a relatively short time. Since passage of the Victims of Crime Act in 1984, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week has successfully promoted the awareness of victims’ rights and honored countless crime victims and survivors. Fields said, “Our message to all crime victims is simple: You are not alone, we stand with you.”

Fields said although these efforts have done much to bring more attention to the issues victims face, work remains to be done.

“The fabric of our society is damaged when victims are not heard and helped, so our commitment to reaching every victim is stronger than ever. We have miles to go before we rest.”

This year’s crime victims’ vigil is sponsored Fields, Intervention & Crisis Advocacy Network, Yukon Police Department, El Reno Police Department, Mustang Police Department, Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, Canadian County Child Advocacy Center, Canadian County Court Clerk’s Office, and Biker’s Against Child Abuse.

For additional information about the 2017 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week or the Victims’ Vigil, contact Sarah Samples, Victim Coordinator at 405-262-0177.