July-August 2007

Harris County Victims Services celebrates anniversary

On April 17, the Harris County Commissioner’s Court presented a proclamation to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Division recognizing its 30th anniversary. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett presented the proclamation to Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal and Division Director Amy Smith.  Also on hand to celebrate this milestone were former Harris County District Attorney Carol Vance and first Division Director Suzanne McDanie.

In 1976 there weren’t any programs for victims in Texas prosecutors’ offices. Mr. Vance, who was also serving as National District Attorneys Association President  at the time, asked McDaniel to research the prospect. “California had a program, and I thought Harris County should have one as well,” Vance explains. The program hosted one of the seven President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime hearings and has grown to serve as a model in the formation of community interagency councils on sexual assault and domestic violence.

The Proclamation states:  “The Harris County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Division was established in 1977 to provide information, assistance, and support for the victims of crime in Harris County.  District Attorney Carol S. Vance, along with Suzanne McDaniel, created the Division to help victims through the difficult experience of the Criminal Justice System. District Attorney John B. Holmes, Jr., with the help of Gail O’Brien, continued the Division and was awarded the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Program in 1988.  Today, District Attorney Charles A. Rosenthal, Jr., Division Director Amy Smith, and her staff continue to serve the people of this county who are victimized by crime. The Harris County Victim Witness Division assisted over 30,000 victims of crime last year and helped them receive $16.9 million in restitution.”

Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!