Crime victim's rights week kicks off Monday

ALBANY, Ga. -- Each year, local government and law enforcement band together with their counterparts across the country to remember those impacted by crime.

This week, the Dougherty District Attorney's office has coordinated a series of observances, tributes and rememberances to victims of crime as a part of National Crime Victim's Rights Week.

"Crime and subsequent legal issues can be overwhelming for victims," Tonya Hall, director of the Dougherty District Attorney's Victim Assistance office, said. "So we step in to guide them along the way, helping them through the process and serving as their advocate."

This week is one of the high points and one of the more somber events each year for Hall and her staff, who work with more than a dozen government, non-profit and advocacy groups to get victims the help they need.

This year's week-long event starts with a proclamation ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Government Center at 222 Pine Ave. in Room 100 during which the heads of local government will officially declare Albany-Dougherty Crime Victim Rights Week and the heads of local agencies will present carnations in remembrance of those whom the agencies served in the past 12 months.

Tuesday, there will be a national moment of silence for all victims of crime at noon.

Wednesday, various groups will have awareness booths set up at Albany Tech from 10 a.m. until noon to draw attention to crime and to help educate students on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime.

On Thursday, all of the agencies will again come together for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of crime at the Veterans Park Amphitheater at 6:30 p.m.

All of the events lead up to a city-wide anti-violence march that will begin at 9 a.m. Organized by Stop the Violence, groups will meet at four locations around the city -- the Civic Center, the Shackleford Shopping Plaza, Bell South and Thronateeska -- and march to the government center for a rally. The march is open to the public.

Hall said the point of the week-long observance is to increase public awareness on the victims of crime, rather than the criminals, who often get the lion's share of the attention.

"The point is basically to remember the victims who who have been harmed by crime and increase public awareness," Hall said. "A lot of attention is devoted to the criminals through the news and in headlines but the victims and their families have to live with that crime as well."

The DA's office of Victims Assistance manages an average of 263 monthly with four employees and two volunteers.