TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today was joined by
Governor and former Attorney General Charlie Crist as well as former
Attorneys General Richard Doran, Bob Butterworth and Jim Smith to
recognize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and the 25th anniversary of
the federal Victims of Crime Act. Also present to help honor law
enforcement officers and victim advocates for their extraordinary efforts
on behalf of Florida victims of crime were Chief Financial Officer Alex
Sink and Commissioner Charles Bronson of the Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“It is a privilege to not only recognize and stand with our citizens who
have been affected by crime, but also to honor our victim advocates and
law enforcement for their tireless service to crime victims and those
victims’ families and loved ones,” said Attorney General McCollum.
The Attorney General and the Governor honored two law enforcement officers
for their dedication to crime victims and their families through their
roles in law enforcement. Trooper Teressa G. Hill, of the Florida Highway
Patrol in Lakeland, and Detective Felix Mendigutia, of the Hialeah Police
Department were recognized for their work on behalf of victims of crime
above and beyond their regular responsibilities.
In addition to recognizing the law enforcement officers, the Attorney
General and the Governor also presented awards to three victim advocates
for their efforts to care for and assist crime victims and their families.
Rosemary Evans Baker, of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office; Mary Alyce
Rebber, of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office; and Angela Williams,
Mothers Against Murderers Association. Also recognized by the Florida
Network of Victim Witness Services was Angela Buckhanan, with the Office
of the Attorney General; Maria Kretschmayer, Linda Kuhn, Sally Panella,
and Alexandria Stone, Ormond Beach Police Department Volunteers; Mark
Lazarus, of the Florida Department of Corrections; and Suzy Williams,
program director for the The Children’s Advocacy Center of Volusia and
Flagler Counties, Inc. were all recognized for outstanding services to
victims and their families. The Network’s awards were presented by
President Christina Mouton.
As part of the ceremony, the Attorney General, the Governor, the former
Attorneys General and the Cabinet members recognized the 25th anniversary
of the Victims of Crime Act, the landmark legislation which established
the Crime Victims Fund. The fund, comprised of fines and penalties
assessed against convicted federal offenders, is the only federal program
that funds services to help victims of all types of crime. Since its
inception, more than $9 billion has been deposited into the fund, of which
Florida has received over $250 million in victim assistance grants and
just under $98 million in crime victim compensation grants.
In 1982 prior to the legislation’s enactment, President Ronald Reagan
appointed a Task Force on Victims of Crime, which held public hearings in
six cities across the nation to create a greatly needed national focus on
the needs of crime victims. The Task Force’s final report offered 68
recommendations which became the framework for the advancement of new
programs and policies. The Task Force’s final recommendation was to amend
the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to guarantee that “…the
victim, in every criminal prosecution, shall have the right to be present
and to be heard at all critical stages of judicial proceedings….”
In 1983, The Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) was created by the U.S.
Department of Justice to implement recommendations from President Reagan’s
Task Force on Victims of Crime, and just two years after the passage of
the Victims of Crime Act, the Office for Victims of Crime awarded the
first grants to support state victim compensation and assistance programs.
In Florida, victim services and compensation is carried out by the
Attorney General’s Division of Victim Services. The division not only
serves as an advocate for crime victims and victims’ rights, it also
administers a compensation program to ensure financial assistance for
innocent victims of crime. As part of its responsibility, the division
also notifies victims of the status of any appellate decisions regarding
their cases. More information is available online at:
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