Updated Tue, Apr 24, 2012 8:22 pm
Law enforcement officers and advocacy agencies across the country are spotlighting crime victim's rights this week, and Athens County is joining the movement in an attempt to reach every victim of a crime.
"There's a fear of being a victim. You don't want to be a victim. I was a victim. I had my house burglarized on a Saturday morning about four years ago. I mean I'm a county prosecutor. I told them, 'Don't file a report. It's okay. We'll get the other eight houses. We don't need to get mine.'" said Keller Blackburn, Athens County prosecutor. "It's something that you just don't want to be. So, the quicker you file a report, the quicker we can gain evidence and get you help as soon as possible."
That kind of help is exactly what agencies and organizations are highlighting as part of national crime victims rights week.
Blackburn said victims often do not understand the criminal justice process.
"We try to inform them of their rights, their opportunity to be present at hearings. They used to be excluded from the courtroom because they were a witness. They couldn't hear what was going on before they testify. Now they have the right to do that," he said.
Several programs on Ohio University's campus provide resources to student crime victims. One such resource is OU's survivor advocacy program. The advocacy program offers support to victims of stalking, dating violence, assault and sexual assault.
Brenda Srickland, coordinator of the program, said the group provides basic counseling services to victims of crimes, transports victims to the hospital and guides victims through police procedures and the criminal justice process.