Things are heating up in Austin, both in temperature and in victim services. We have been sending out notices to elected prosecutors and victim assistance coordinators about the coming Victim Services Board election. Board members will channel much-needed information from their region to plan training, establish operational procedures and standards, and serve as mentors. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the mentoring role. Those who do this work every day have invaluable experience and expertise and know best how to help others get started or solve problems in existing programs.
Running for a regional position on the board is a simple process. All you need to do is obtain authorization from your elected official, be a TDCAA member who has paid TDCAA membership dues, and attend the TDCAA Annual Civil & Criminal Law Update on South Padre Island this September. Board members will be elected by region by other coordinators in that region. It isn’t necessary to make a speech, kiss a baby, or buy a lot of expensive advertising time on television. However, if you would like to say a few words, go for it. TDCAA will reimburse you for travel to biennial meetings.
Many of you have also asked how you can become more involved in other ways. A great first step is to sign up for our e-mail notices by contacting me at [email protected] tdcaa.com or 512/474-2436. I’ve gotten lots of interesting calls since coming on board and would love to share them with you and get your comments. For example, a probationer was recently transferred to another county’s supervision, triggering the issue of whose job it was to notify the victim. Did you realize that §76.016 of the Texas Government Code details the duties of victim notification for probation departments along with the prosecutor’s duty to provide victim contact information to the department?
We would also appreciate your ideas for journal articles. Let us know what you would like to read about or share your creative solution or inspiring story with us. Early in my career I met a young woman who had been sexually assaulted, strangled, and left for dead. She had survived the unthinkable, but because her larynx had been severely damaged, she literally didn’t have a voice. We became close as she went through continuance after continuance and finally through trial. The defendant was convicted and given a lengthy sentence, but she told me she persevered not for herself, but so that no one else would be harmed. I remembered her years later when we drafted and passed the victim impact statement (VIS) statute. I remember her each time I explain the importance of the VIS as the voice for victims that don’t have one. I’m sure many of you have similar experiences, and it would be great if we shared these stories with the rest of our association’s members.