MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Thirty-one years ago sponsors from some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of St. Louis, San Francisco, and the nation's capital founded the nation's first assistance programs for crime victims.
Since then, all 50 States have passed victims' rights laws, and more than half U.S. state constitutions have been amended to guarantee rights for crime victims.
Centers were established in communities where violence is common. Their mission is to bring help, hope and healing to those who suffer the effects of crime. The creation of these victim-assistance programs launched a movement that started other programs and support groups to help victims throughout the United States.
In 2002 president George W. Bush stated, "The nation has come to realize the tragic toll that crime takes and has developed the resources to ease crime's physical, emotional and financial impact."
April 6 began National Victims' Rights Week.
Many events were scheduled last week in honor of this national remembrance. A golf tournament, candlelight vigil, and blood drive were just a few of the events held.
The base also offers programs to help people who are victims or witnesses of crime.
Personnel in the Provost Marshal's Office offer materials to inform victims and witnesses of their rights.
When a crime is committed, PMO offers the victims and witnesses a form called the "Initial Information for Victims and Witnesses of Crimes," also known as the DD Form 2701. This pamphlet provides information about rights of victims and witnesses based on the crime, restraining orders, confinement and trials for the criminals, and telephone numbers for answers to any questions.
"Most victims and witnesses don't know or understand the proceedings of a trial or what their rights are during them [trials]," said Gunnery Sgt. Casey Robinson, PMO Support Services Chief. "We ensure that they have the information so they will be educated and more aware of what they can do to protect themselves."
Marine Corps Community Services' Personal Services Branch also offers programs.
The Family Advocacy Program, offered by MCCS, includes victim advocacy. A representative from FAP is on call 24 hours a day to provide crisis intervention and referrals to community resources for any services not available on base. If needed, counselors can accompany witnesses or victims to medical examinations and court proceedings. FAP can also put victims and witnesses in safe houses, if needed.
All Family Advocacy counselors are required to have, at a minimum, a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling or Social Work and a certified state license.