Remarks by United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.
2012 Victims’ Rights March & Rally
April 27, 2012
It is an honor to be here during National Crimes Victims’ Rights Week and it is a privilege to join Tony Rackauckas and my good friends at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in a show of mutual support for crime victims, for the rights of crime victims and for the advocates for crime victims.
I’m grateful for this opportunity to commend the work of victims’ rights advocates in Orange County and to extend a welcome to their colleagues, friends and family members.
Events like this are critical because they demonstrate that crime victims are not alone – but are instead part of a comprehensive public and private support system that includes family members, victims’ advocacy services and law enforcement. And nowhere is that more true than here in Orange County. On behalf of the entire United States Justice Department, I thank you all.
Today, we’ve come together as one to champion victim’s rights and to acknowledge the signal importance of both victims and of those men and women who have found their calling in the service of others – our victims’ rights advocates. We honor the struggle of crime victims to be heard and we honor the victims’ advocates for your dedication to make sure those voices are indeed heard.
Together, you’ve designed and manage the programs we all rely on to aid the victims of violent crime, as well as domestic and sexual violence; you’ve established child-abuse and domestic-violence victim services programs; and you’ve supervised and trained other victims’ advocates.
I know that many of you have channeled your own pain and suffering into a positive force for change and that all of you have harnessed your empathy to serve the needs of others. All of you deserve to be commended, not only for your extraordinary service, but also for the example you set.
This is not easy work – it may be the hardest work in the entire field of criminal law – by its very nature it involves painful and emotional encounters. But it is a vital component of the criminal justice system.
This year’s national theme is: “Extending the Vision Reaching Every Victim” – a theme that reminds us of our nation’s continuing duty to help all – all – crime victims rebuild stronger lives. The success of the victims’ rights movement here in Orange County and indeed, throughout California has been a model for the nation – and we helped crime victims find closure – and start the all-important healing process to begin – a process that leads to new hopes for the future and the restoration of lives.
All across the country, victim programs like this one are serving people in need and in crisis, working in police departments, in D.A.’s offices, in hospitals and shelters. And victims advocate are educating other professionals about victims’ unique challenges and needs. Pediatricians and teachers are being trained to identify signs of abuse. And many medical and law enforcement professionals now receive special training on treating victims of sexual assault.
Our Justice Department – like the Orange County District Attorney’s Office – is working with service providers to reach those victims most in need of help. We’re also evolving to meet new challenges and emerging threats. As criminals adapt to an inter-connected world, advocates and service-providers alike – in partnership with law enforcement – are working hard to serve victims of youth violence, cybercrime, identify theft, human trafficking and fraud.
We are also reaching out to the victims of financial fraud and trying to teach American consumers to learn how to protect themselves from fraud and to report it wherever – and however – it occurs. Victims of financial fraud may not encounter violence, but they often suffer devastating losses that can take years to recover from – both financially and emotionally. They also need our help and support in overcoming these crimes and seeking justice.
I realize that, in this time of growing needs and limited resources, this is a tall order – and victims’ rights specialists are often asked to do much more with much less. But I want you all to know that The US Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice – will continue working to support the essential services you provide.
We all know that in tough economic climates like we face today, it will take more than money to fulfill our responsibilities to you and to those you assist. Just as we need to be smart on crime, we must also be smart about meeting the needs of victims.
I know that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is leading the way in this effort by providing innovative training, resources and development support. And we want to be there with our partners every step of the way. And that is why this year’s theme of extending the vision and reaching every victim is so important.
I know that identifying and implementing the solutions we need to make a difference, and to make continued progress, will not be easy. But, as I look around this morning and consider all that has already been accomplished, I can’t help but feel hopeful about the progress I know we can, and will, make. I look forward to this work, and I’m grateful that our efforts will be guided by your extraordinary examples.