Prosecuting Attorney expands services for crime victims

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Featured image, from left to right: Brooke Hipp, Veronica Gray, Susan Porter; Sue Lamons (seated).

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More services and assistance for crime victims in North Central Arkansas are now available. Sixteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance has announced the expansion of the Victims Assistance program for the 16th Judicial District, which covers Independence, Cleburne, Stone, Izard, and Fulton Counties.

Hance said that last year, the program expanded from having only one victim advocate for the entire district by adding two part-time advocates.

This year, with additional funding from the federal Victims of Crime Act, the program now has four full-time advocates who provide services for victims in the five-county district.

Advocates are charged with helping provide guidance and healing for victims. They help in the immediate aftermath of a crime and continue to support victims as they rebuild their lives. Advocates ensure that victims are afforded their legal rights, direct victims to available services and programs including the Arkansas Crime Victims Compensation program and help victims navigate the judicial process.

“Our additional advocates allow us to offer crime victims and their families support in the District Courts and Juvenile Division of Circuit Courts in the five counties for the first time,” Hance said. “These are the courts where we see a large number of domestic and child abuse cases. We will continue to help victims of serious felonies in circuit courts, most of whom are unfamiliar with the justice system and its many moving parts.
“We are very grateful that we are able to provide these services without direct funding from the local governments.”

The program is headquartered in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office in Batesville with satellite offices in the other counties. Susan Porter is the District Assistance Coordinator, she and advocate Sue Lamons assist victims in Independence and Fulton counties. Veronica Gray is the advocate for Izard and Stone County counties. Brooke Hipp is the advocate for Cleburne County. Porter and Gray are graduates of the Arkansas Victim Assistance Academy.

Victims who want to make an appointment to meet with a victim advocate can contact Lamons or Porter at (870) 793-8825, Gray at (870) 269-7737 and Hipp at (501) 362-1818.

The 16th Judicial District program is part of a nationwide program that has its roots in the 1984 federal Victims of Crime Act. It is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office For Victims of Crime. Funding comes not from taxpayers, but from the Crime Victims Fund, which is banked by fines collected from those convicted of federal crimes.

The 16th Judicial District Victim Assistance Program was recently selected by the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators to receive a public awareness grant to promote National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which will be celebrated April 19-25.

Plans are underway to celebrate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week at Stone Bank Park in Mountain View from 12 to 3 p.m. on April 25. The event will offer free food, speakers, resource tables, kid’s games, music and door prizes. The event is free and open to the public.

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