By Jalayne Robinson, LMSW
TDCAA Director of Victim Services
During the week of April 18–24, 2021, communities across the United States observed National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). The 2021 theme—“Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities”—emphasized the importance of leveraging community support to help victims of crime.
The Office for Victims of Crime offers a resource guide each year that includes everything needed to host an event in your community. Check out the website at https://ovc.ojp.gov/program/national-crime-victims-rights-week/overview for additional information. Sign up for the NCVRW subscription list at https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/subscribe to receive information in 2022 to plan your event.
Numerous communities across Texas observed NCVRW, and TDCAA would like to share photos and stories submitted by a member.
Victim-Witness Coordinator in the Bell County District Attorney’s Office
The Bell County Crime Victims Coalition (VACs and advocates from law enforcement agencies) gathered by the Victim Memorial Tree outside the Bell County Courthouse on Monday, April 19, to pay tribute to crime victims and their families in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. We placed commemorative ribbons on the tree, which was planted and dedicated by the coalition 10 years ago (see the photos at right).
The Bell County Commissioners Court signed a proclamation declaring this week as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Bell County. District Attorney Henry Garza assisted with recognizing crime victims and hanging ribbons on the tree. Victims, their families, and friends are able to visit the tree anytime during this week.
Victim Impact Statement revision
In accordance with Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 56A.151, the Texas Crime Victims Clearinghouse will revise the Victim Impact Statement following the 87th Regular Session.
Please look for the new Victim Impact Statement forms available this fall at tdcj.texas.gov/publications/victim_impact_statement.html.
This summer I will serve on the TDCJ-Victim Services Division Victim Impact Statement Revision Committee. The committee will meet several times in Austin to review the format of the Victim Impact Statement form, Victim Impact Statement Quarterly Activity Report, “It’s Your Voice” brochure, and Victim Impact Statement recommended processing procedures, and review any changes proposed by the committee members.
If you have wished for additional information or for revisions to these documents, I am open to suggestions and will share them with the committee. The VIS revision committee is interested in making these documents user-friendly for victims as well as criminal justice professionals. Please share your suggestions with me by email at [email protected]
Protective order registry
The Office of Court Administration launched the new Protective Order Registry in October 2020. The dedicated website for law enforcement and prosecution personnel is called the Protective Order Registry of Texas (PROTECT) and is located at https://protect.txcourts.gov. This portal launched in February 2021 and currently contains more than 34,000 entries.
For the first time, PROTECT allows criminal justice personnel in Texas to view more comprehensive protective order information online, including images of applications and signed orders, to improve enforcement, investigation, and safety planning for victims of family violence and other violent crimes. Texas courts have been entering applications, protective orders, and magistrate’s orders of emergency protection into the registry since October 15, 2020. Courts are required to complete entry of the information into the registry within 24 hours of issuance.
Elected district attorneys, criminal district attorneys, and county attorneys may have already been added to the registry as restricted users, which gives access to view all applications and protective orders that have been entered into the registry. For other personnel within an office to also view these records, you must enter them into the registry as restricted users. Please go to https://protect.txcourts.gov for all the information on how to get started.
Please send any questions to [email protected] To inquire about training for yourself or your staff, please contact the domestic violence training attorney, Kimberly Piechowiak at [email protected] OCA is excited to offer this new tool to assist in enforcement and investigation of violent crimes in Texas.
Victim services consultations by Zoom
As TDCAA’s Victim Services Director, my primary responsibility is to assist elected prosecutors of Texas, victim assistance coordinators (VACs), and other prosecutor office staff in providing support services for crime victims in their jurisdictions. I am available to provide victim services training and technical assistance to you via phone, email, or Zoom. The services are free of charge.
If you would like to schedule a victim services training, please email me at [email protected] Many VACs across Texas are taking advantage of this free victim services training—please let me know how I may be of assistance to you and your office.