TDCAA Victim Services Board for 2016

New members were recently elected and appointed to TDCAA’s Victim Services Board for Regions 2, 4, 6, and 8. Board members for 2016 are:

Chairperson: Serena Hooper Payne, Andrews County & District Attorney’s Office
Region 1: Angel Morland, Potter County Attorney’s Office
Region 2: Freda White, Ector County Attorney’s Office
Region 3: Dalia Arteaga, 38th ­Judicial District Attorney’s Office (Hondo)
Region 4: Mary Ann Sieracki, ­Wilson County Attorney’s Office
Region 5 & Secretary: Colleen ­Jordan, Harris County District Attorney’s Office
Region 6: Amy Varnell, Cass ­County District Attorney’s Office
Region 7: Adina Morris, Palo Pinto County DA’s Office
Region 8 & Vice Chair: Wanda ­Ivicic, Williamson County ­Attorney’s Office
Training Committee Liaison: Cyndi Jahn, Bexar County CDA’s Office
Immediate past president: Tracy Viladevall, McLennan County CDA’s Office

   The Victim Services Board members represent a wealth of expertise in the field of victim services. The board’s purpose is to prepare and develop operational procedures, standards, training and educational programs; coordinate victim assistance programs; and address all such other appropriate matters dealing with victim assistance programs and services in prosecutor’s offices across Texas. The board members serve as mentors and points of contact for their regions. Congratulations and welcome! A very special thank-you to our outgoing board members. Your willingness, dedication, and loyalty to service on our Victim Services Board is so very appreciated. We will miss you!

KP/VAC Seminar in Galveston
The Hotel Galvez in Galveston was the venue for a dynamic seminar held for Key Personnel (prosecutor office staff) and Victim Assistance Coordinators (VACs) from all across Texas in November. More than 200 members gathered to hear speakers teach on topics targeting key personnel and victim assistants. Many thanks to all of our very informative speakers! We appreciate your time and valuable assistance.
    This seminar is held annually and provides key personnel and victim assistance coordinators from prosecutor’s offices a chance to network and get new ideas from others who do similar jobs in other counties. Mark your calendar for next year’s KP/VAC Seminar to be held at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos November 2–4, 2016.

Bylaw change
At the KP/VAC Seminar, a business meeting was called for Thursday, November 5, with the topic of changing the TDCAA Victim Services bylaws to allow elections for regional representatives on the Victim Services Board to be held at the KP/VAC Seminar each year rather than at the TDCAA Annual Criminal & Civil Law Update. A vote was conducted with all in favor of the elections being moved. Elections for TDCAA’s Victims Services Board for Regions 1, 3, 5, and 7 will now be held at the KP/VAC Seminar in San Marcos in 2016.
    For more information about running for the board , contact Jalayne Robinson, TDCAA Director of Victim Services, by email at [email protected] tdcaa.com.

Suzanne McDaniel Award
Sue White, a victim assistance coordinator who has worked for the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney’s Office for 18-plus years, has been honored with TDCAA’s Suzanne McDaniel Award for her work on behalf of crime victims. The award from TDCAA’s Victim Services Board is given each year to a person who is employed in a prosecutor’s office whose job duties involve working directly with victims and who has demonstrated impeccable service to TDCAA, victim services, and prosecution.
    Sue received her award at TDCAA’s Key Personnel/Victim Assistance Coordinator Seminar in Galveston during a luncheon for attendees. She exemplifies the qualities that were so evident in Suzanne McDaniel herself: advocacy, empathy, and a constant recognition of the rights of crime victims. Congratulations Sue!

Victim Impact Statements
Every odd-numbered year, according to Art. 56.03(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and after each legislative session, the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse (TxCVC) convenes a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) Revision Committee. The committee members take a fresh look at the VIS forms and provide valuable input to develop a VIS form that will give victims the voice in the criminal justice process they deserve.
    In 2015, the committee meetings took place in the summer and included discussion on new legislation from the 84th Legislative Session that relates to the VIS, the format of the document, and proposed changes from committee members based on their daily interactions with crime victims and the criminal justice system.
    TDCAA received a word from Angie McCown, Director of Victim Services for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, about these revisions:
    “In accordance with Code of Criminal Procedure article 56.03, the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse (TxCVC) completed revisions to the Victim Impact Statement (VIS) form with the assistance of the 2015 VIS Revision Committee. The VIS form is designed to allow victims of crime to receive a clear statement of their rights, to indicate their notification preferences, and to describe the impact of the crime to the attorney representing the state, the judge, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
    “The revised VIS form and additional materials can be viewed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.texas.gov/ publications/pubs_victim_impact_statement.html. The VIS form for victims of juvenile offenders and all of the Spanish editions of the VIS are being updated, and all of the TxCVC brochures will be available in print by early 2016. Please feel free to print copies of the online documents.
    “The TxCVC has regional staff who provide VIS training and assistance with any questions you have about the VIS. If you or your staff are interested in VIS training, please contact the TxCVC staff at [email protected] or 512/406-5931.”
    If you are a VAC or staffer in a prosecutor’s office who is in charge of delivering VIS forms to crime victims, please make sure you have downloaded the latest version of the VIS (dated September 25, 2015, on the bottom left corner of the form). In addition, the Victim Impact Statement brochure, “It’s Your Voice,” explains the importance of the Victim Impact Statement and how it is used during court proceedings and the parole review process. When you are mailing out your VIS packets to crime victims, be sure and include an “It’s Your Voice” brochure too! This brochure and other free publications may be ordered from the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/vs/victim_clearinghouse_order_form.html

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Each April communities throughout the country observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) by hosting events promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. NCVRW will be observed April 10–16, 2016. Check out the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) website at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw for additional information. If your community hosts an event, The Texas Prosecutor journal would love to publish photos and information about it. Please email me at [email protected] to notify us of plans for your event.

In-office VAC visits
TDCAA’s Victim Services Project is available to offer in-office support to your victim services program. We at TDCAA realize the majority of VACs in prosecutor’s 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 also understand VACs may not have anyone locally to turn to for advice and at times could use assistance or moral support.
    My TDCAA travels have recently taken me to Gilmer, Liberty, Lufkin, Rockport, George West, Fredericksburg, and Georgetown to sit down with VACs for in-office consultations. (Whew!) Thanks each of these offices for allowing TDCAA to offer support! I thoroughly enjoy helping VACs because I have been in their shoes and realize how nice it is to have someone to turn to when there are questions.
    Please e-mail me at Jalayne. [email protected] for inquiries, support, or to schedule an in-office consultation.