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Home » Op-ed: Victims of crime must be treated with respect and compassion, criminals prosecuted – The State Journal-Register

Op-ed: Victims of crime must be treated with respect and compassion, criminals prosecuted – The State Journal-Register

The person injured or killed by gun violence. The child who is exploited by an online predator or who suffers hands-on abuse. The drug addict to whom dealers purvey dangerous and sometimes deadly wares. The elderly grandparent who is defrauded.
It is National Crime Victim’s Rights Week, and, as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, I join communities nationwide in recognizing the importance of rights, access, and equity for victims.
I am motivated to serve every day not only to reduce crime in our communities but also to achieve justice for the victims who have been harmed and their loved ones. My goal is not only to hold the perpetrator accountable, but it is also to ensure that victims are treated with respect and compassion during and after the prosecution of their case.
I remember a particular case that I prosecuted, where a large sum of money was stolen from an elderly victim. We were able to stop the fraud in its tracks, so the victim was not left destitute, and also obtain a restitution order against the defendant. These results were undeniably important, but it was also critical that our office exhibit care and concern for the person who had been defrauded – which was an emotional and traumatic event – particularly in light of certain competency issues he faced.
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Victims’ issues are of the utmost importance, and I applaud the Office for Victims of Crime in the United States Department of Justice for spearheading this annual and important weeklong event. But as DOJ also recognizes, our care for victims of crime must and will extend beyond our public commemoration.
According to the Bureau of Justice, the violent crime victimization rate was 21 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in the United States in 2021. While this was a slight decrease from 2020, it shows that we still have significant work to do in reducing crime. As we work toward this goal, we are more committed than ever to working with our local, state, and federal partners to promote laws, policies and programs that support victims of crime in achieving justice and in their recovery.
We also appreciate the progress that has been made in supporting victims of crime. Thanks to the hard work of individuals and organizations across the country, every state now has a crime victim compensation fund and laws, such as the Illinois Crime Victims Bill of Rights, that offer protection and assistance to victims of crime.
Finally, we should recognize that communities as a whole are victims of crime as well, which also underscores the need to reduce crime in our district. Communities are affected by gun violence, sexual exploitation of children, drug dealing, and fraud. They also are harmed by the dumping of toxic waste, corruption, and other criminal acts.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois is committed to working for justice on behalf of individual victims and to bettering the health of our communities. We hope you join and support these efforts.
For information regarding resources for crime victims in your area, please go to
https://ovc.ojp.gov/help-for-victims/overview https://www.justice.gov/actioncenter/find-help-and-information-crime-victims
Gregory K. Harris is the U.S, Attorney for the Central District of Illinois.

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