Father of Elizabeth Smart to Speak at Event Honoring Victims and Those Working to Protect Them
Phoenix, AZ (Monday, April 22, 2013) – Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is today announcing the kick-off of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme, New Challenges. New Solutions., celebrates the spirit of those who have worked (and continue to work) in the area of victims’ rights, while also recognizing the courage and resilience of those who have been victim to a crime.
“The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to a system of justice that is inclusive of crime victims and will remain vigilant in striving to provide the most efficient and effective service to the people of Arizona,” said Attorney General Tom Horne. “With the tragic events that unfolded in Boston last week, it is important to work with a sense of urgency to track down and punish criminals, but even more important to remember, honor and fight, on behalf of the victims as they try to heal, get closure and move on.”
On Tuesday, April 23, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, alongside the Governor’s Office, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Arizona Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Corrections, and other organizations will host a luncheon to honor victims and those who work to seek justice on their behalf. The luncheon begins at 11 AM at Stand Up Live located in downtown Phoenix and will feature Keynote speaker Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, who at the age of 14 was abducted while sleeping in her family home and held against her will for nine months.
In 1990, Arizona voters approved the Victims’ Rights Amendment to the Arizona Constitution. This was a landmark achievement that affords all victims of crime the opportunity to have a participatory role in the criminal justice system and also extends certain protections of law to victims during their involvement with those processes.
Arizona victims’ rights law provides that victims have the right to receive timely notice of criminal proceedings in their cases. Victims have the right to be present in the courtroom during all proceedings involving the defendant. The Victim’s Bill of Rights and related statutes ensure that victims are provided the opportunity to be heard at release, plea, and sentencing proceedings. These laws also provide for the safety of victims throughout the criminal justice process as well as their interest in avoiding unreasonable delays, their claims for restitution, and to be treated with dignity and respect.
Prior to passage of the Victims’ Bill of Rights in 1990, which amended the Arizona Constitution to include victims’ rights, Arizona’s crime victims had few rights. Victims had no access to crime victim compensation and received limited services to help rebuild their lives. Crime victims were often excluded from courtrooms and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencing.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office of Victims Services (OVS) supports a range of programs for crime victims and seeks to ensure that crime victims’ rights are protected throughout the criminal justice process.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week also serves as a reminder that many challenges remain. The criminal justice system is sometimes confusing and overwhelming for victims. And only a small percentage of victims are fully restored financially through restitution. Advocates also face a host of new challenges as they strive to provide culturally competent services for increasingly diverse populations (e.g., seniors, teens, immigrant populations) and victims of new crime trends (e.g., trafficking and technology-related stalking and identity theft). In the face of these challenges, and as funding sources decrease, providers must target their services even more strategically.
For more details on victims’ rights and victims’ rights week, please visit our website at: www.azag.gov.