Recently, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office of Victim Services Agency Support Team (AST) won the prestigious “Crime Victims’ Rights Award” from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. Members of the team were recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 7. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office was the only prosecution agency recognized at the 2017 National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony.
The AST was recognized for creating programs that advance and enforce statewide uniformity and efficiency in following victims’ rights in Arizona. In 2016, AST provided over 2,000 technical assistance services to direct service providers. The AST administers the Victims’ Rights Fund to 58 criminal justice agencies, which in turn are subject to comprehensive audits to ensure that the agencies are upholding victims’ rights and that services are being provided to victims. These audits allow the funded agencies to more successfully ensure victims’ rights and evidence compliance, and allow the AST staff to communicate and institute best practices around the state.
AST has developed trainings tailored to different agency types as well as Basic Victims’ Rights training and an advanced training curriculum. In 2016, 72 training sessions were administered to over 1,500 participants including victim advocates, support staff, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, judges, and probation.
The AST also employs a Victims’ Rights Compliance Specialist to work with victims who believe their rights have been violated, and to help agencies improve their services. Finally, the AST supports collaboration by chairing the Victims’ Rights Advisory Committee which consists of victims’ rights providers from various systems and successfully makes legislative changes, works with the Department of Child Safety, addresses problems with sentencing, and more.
The AST team has advanced victims’ rights services in Arizona and increased compliance thanks largely to their knowledge, motivation, collaboration, high quality customer service, and leadership skills.
Kirstin Flores, Kennesha Jackson, Alexandra Rucker, and Colette Chapman represented the agency at the awards presentation.