Vermont Witnesses To Testify Before Leahy-Chaired Panel

FRIDAY April 24, 2009 – Two Vermonters will testify about the importance of the Crime Victims Act in Washington next week before a Senate panel chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).  The hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 28.

Next week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.  It is the 25th anniversary of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which established the Crime Victims’ Fund.  The Fund serves roughly four million crime victims a year, including victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and drunk driving, as well as survivors of homicide victims.  The fund does not depend on taxpayer revenues; it is supported from federal crime fines, penalties, bonds and private donates.  Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has worked to preserve the Crime Victims Fund.

Susan Russell of Warren, Vermont, is a crime victim survivor, and currently serves as a criminal justice and victim services consultant.  She holds a Certificate from the National Victim Assistance Academy and Vermont’s Victim Assistance Academy.  She is also a National Organization for Victim Assistance credentialed Victim Advocate.  She is expected to testify about her experience with the Crime Victims’ Fund, and about crime victims’ need for support from the criminal justice system.

Also testifying at the hearing will be Judy Rex, Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services.  Judy has worked on behalf of crime victims in Vermont for 25 years and is currently the Vermont State VOCA Administrator.  She is expected to testify about the progress that has been made on behalf of victims’ rights since VOCA’s enactment in 1984, and the importance of the Act today.  

Mary Lou Leary of the National Center for Victims of Crime is also scheduled to testify.

The hearing will be held Tuesday, April 28, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington.  The hearing will be webcast live online.

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