By Traci Chapman
For those who have lost someone to a violent crime, remembrance can prompt a whirlwind of emotions – loss, sorrow, nostalgia, frustration, anger.
Canadian County district attorney Mike Fields said he wants to ensure that one thing those families and friends, and crime victims themselves, never feel is isolation.
“This year’s theme is ‘Expand the Circle: Reach all Victims,” Fields said. “This year’s theme pushes us to reach out to more people and groups to help victims understand they are not alone – there is help and hope.”
For more than two decades, the county district attorneys’ office has worked to support the larger National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, held annually to remember, celebrate and provide solace to those impacted by violent offenses.
“The vigil gives us an opportunity to look back at how far we’ve come, but it also motivates and inspires us to do more – there are many crime victims who are struggling and there are many more who haven’t come forward,” Fields said. “Crime Victims’ Rights Week is one way to raise the level of awareness to the plight of all victims.”
Across the United States, violent crime strikes more than 5 million people, 15 million more facing property crimes annually, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Those individuals come from all walks of life, Fields said.
“Crime is no respecter of persons—it impacts every aspect of our society,” he said.
While crime is still a problem, those victimized by it have had some help, thanks to 1984’s Victims of Crime Act. There is a long way to go, however, Fields said.
“This year’s theme emphasizes the need to expand opportunities for victims to disclose their victimization, connect with services, and receive the support they need, as well as acknowledging the many barriers fixing crime victims, especially those from historically marginalized communities.”
In addition to the district attorneys’ office, Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network, Canadian County Child Advocacy Center, Mustang, Yukon and El Reno police departments, Canadian County court clerk’s office, Canadian County Sheriff’s department and Biker’s Against Child Abuse sponsor this year’s event.
The 26th annual crime victims’ vigil is set for 6 p.m. Monday, April 9, at Canadian County Courthouse Courtroom No. 1. For more information, call victim coordinator Sarah Samples at 405-262-0177.