A one-man band is a musician who plays a number of musical instruments simultaneously using his hands, feet, limbs, and various mechanical and electronic contraptions. As victim assistance coordinators (VACs), do you sometimes feel like a one-man band, precariously juggling tasks all by yourself? Or are there times you feel like the Lone Ranger—the only helper in a vast wilderness—when guiding crime victims through the criminal justice system?
We at TDCAA realize the majority of VACs in prosecutor offices across Texas are the only people in their office responsible for developing victim services programs and compiling information to send to crime victims as required by Chapter 56 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. We realize VACs may not have anyone else locally to turn to for advice and at times could use assistance or moral support.
My job as TDCAA’s new Victim Services Director will be to partner with VACs in prosecutor offices across Texas to create unity as we demystify the criminal justice system for crime survivors and offer support that can reduce victims’ severe emotional stress. Having worked as a VAC for the Wood County Criminal District Attorney in Quitman for over 22 years, I am completely aware of how VACs working with victims on the front lines are constantly challenged by a wide range of complex issues each and every day. I also understand how helping victims find solutions to complicated problems and comforting people during their most vulnerable and often panic-stricken state is unbelievably meaningful and worthwhile, and we love our jobs!
The Lone Ranger Creed (below) parallels the duties of us who offer crime victims’ services. We, too, should be a friend to crime victims, treat them equally, make the most of the resources we have, advocate for truth, and be prepared to help victims fight for their rights.
It is my hope you will lean on me for support when you are feeling like a one-man band or the Lone Ranger as you handle difficult victim-related situations. I am available to provide victim services support, training, and technical assistance to prosecutor offices, VACs, and support staff via phone or e-mail or by actually traveling to your city for in-office consultations. I encourage your input, expertise, and ideas as we help each other develop outstanding Victim Services Divisions in each prosecutor office. My vision is for VACs statewide to connect to peers, share ideas about best practices, and change crime victims’ lives in their communities.
Please e-mail me at Jalayne. [email protected] with questions, for support, or to schedule an in-office consultation.
The Lone Ranger Creed
By Fran Striker, circa 1933
“I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That ‘this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later, somewhere, somehow, we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever. In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”
Calling all therapy dogs!
Numerous prosecutors across Texas are recognizing the value of using therapy service dog programs in court proceedings when pre-paring child witnesses. We would like to highlight “best practices” from prosecutor-based service dog programs around the state in an upcoming edition of The Texas Prosecutor. Please send photos, captions, and a short paragraph about your courtroom service dog program to us at [email protected]
Sharing your program with our entire membership may assist other prosecutors considering a courtroom service dog program.