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today's word on

Friday, April 8, 2005

"Once you have learned how to ask questions, you have learned how to learn."

--Neil Postman, journalism scholar (1931-2003)

USU JCOM NEWS NOTE: THE JCOM Department celebrates the Class of 2005 Friday with JDay, showcasing the best of student work in print and
broadcast journalism, the Web, photo, and public relations. Followed by the annual JCOM Awards Banquet--student awards, 2005-06 scholarship winner, speaker Robert Kirby of the Salt Lake Tribune, all with fine dining. For information or reservations, contact the USU JCOM Department at or 435-797-3292.

Help for crime victims is close to home

By Jessica Dunyon

March 14, 2005 | Victims of crime in Cache Valley may be surprised to know of the resources available to them through Cache Valley Victims Services, which is operated by the Cache County Attorney's Office, and the Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency.

According to Terryl Warner, a victims' advocate at Cache Valley Victims Services, there are thousands of victims of violence and/or abuse in the valley. Warner said there are three types of victims in crime. Primary victims are those who actually experienced the events and secondary victims are those who witnessed the events. The third type of victim includes the family and friends of the perpetrator. Victims Services offers advocacy services for all three groups by educating victims about the legal process and offering counseling services.

"We are responsible for contacting every victim in every case to let them know of their rights," said Warner.

Advocates assist victims by clearly explaining legal proceedings from investigation to sentencing. Advocates also explain Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), an e-government program set up to keep victims informed about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders. Victims can be notified instantly if an offender's status changes, such as release, escape, or a court appearance. According to the VINE website, over 1,400 communities in over 37 states have access to the system. VINE is funded through private donations, Warner said. Utah has had access to VINE since July 1, 2004.

Although Victims Services is a joint effort with the Cache County Attorney's Office, taxpayers do not foot the bill for the services they provide. Victims Services is funded by the Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which was started in 1984 to help victim assistance agencies give aid to crime victims. There is also a program called the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which is funded through fines, penalties and forfeitures of perpetrators. These programs offer reparations to victims to recover lost wages, cover damages, and pay for counseling.

Warner said that between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2004, the attorney's office prosecuted 625 cases and assisted 1,944 victims. She said in about one-third of those cases, the offenders were juveniles between the ages of 13 and 17. Since July 1, 26 juveniles under the age of 12 were charged with felony crimes.

While Victims Services deals with victims of all felony crimes, CAPSA deals only with crimes that are of a violent or sexual nature. Pam Allen, executive director at CAPSA, said that Victims Services and CAPSA work very closely together. She said CAPSA refers clients not only to Victims Services, but to other agencies in the valley as well. Over 3,000 people sought counseling, advocacy and support services through CAPSA in 2004.

CAPSA was started under sponsorship of Utah State University's Women's Center in 1976 by a group of women who met to discuss the plight of rape victims. Allen said police began to call this group of women to assist not only with rape cases, but with cases of domestic violence as well. According to Allen, volunteers would often hide women and children in their own homes. CAPSA was completely a volunteer effort at its inception, and still depends on a large number of volunteers to ensure the organization's success.

Allen said volunteers are always needed, but they must be willing to complete 40 hours of training a year. Allen said training is required for the volunteers to work with victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. Volunteers must submit to a background check and may need to be fingerprinted as well. Individuals interested in volunteering for CAPSA should call 753-2500 for more information.

Last year in Cache Valley 7,658 calls were made to CAPSA's 24-hour crisis line. Allen said 238 people sought shelter in the CAPSA shelter, and law enforcement made 439 requests for advocacy at domestic violence and rape scenes. According to the Logan City Website, there are nearly 100,000 people living in Cache Valley and while most residents feel safe in the valley, the truth is a substantial amount of crime exists. The Cache County Attorney's Office prosecuted 1,386 felony cases in 2004.


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