Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, joined by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, today recognized 14 individuals, organizations, and teams for their advocacy on behalf of victims of crime. The award recipients were honored during the annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony.
“Empowering and encouraging people who have been victimized to participate in our legal system is essential to justice,” said Attorney General Garland. “For the past 41 years, the Department of Justice has recognized the challenges, struggles, and achievements of crime victims and victim advocates in their efforts to secure the rights, access, and equal justice that all survivors deserve. I am pleased to congratulate this year’s honorees on their selection for these distinguished awards and extend my deepest gratitude for their continued work.”
The awardees were selected from public nominations in multiple categories, including federal service, public policy, victim services, and a Special Courage award. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a component of the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, placing crime victims’ rights, needs and concerns in prominence on the American agenda.
President Reagan also established the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, which laid the groundwork for a national network of services and legal safeguards for crime victims. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Task Force’s Final Report and marks 50 years since the establishment of the first three victim assistance organizations — Bay Area Women Against Rape in Oakland, California; the D.C. Rape Crisis Center in Washington, D.C.; and Aid for Victims of Crime (now the Crime Victim Advocacy Center) in St. Louis, Missouri. The creation of these organizations, all of which still exist today, is considered to be the genesis of the crime victims’ movement in the United States.
The 41st observance of NCVRW takes place this year, April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”
“This time every year, we honor and remember victims of crime, not only for the trauma that they have endured and the adversity they have encountered, but also for their courage and resilience and for paving the way toward justice and healing for countless other survivors across the country,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “These extraordinary individuals and teams embody an ethic of service and compassion that distinguishes them from an already exceptional field of victim-serving professionals. We join the Attorney General in expressing our deepest appreciation for providing crime victims — all crime victims — a place to turn in their time of need.”
Following is a list of the 2022 NCVRW award recipients:
- The Allied Professional Award recognizes individuals working outside the victim assistance field for their service to victims.
- Recipients: Deborah Flowers, Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Dr. Linda Laras, Caguas, Puerto Rico.
- The Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services recognizes a program, organization or individual who expands the reach of victims’ rights and services.
- Recipients: Barrier Free Living, Bronx, New York, and LGBTQ+ Victim Advocacy Initiative at Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis, Indiana.
- The Financial Restoration Award recognizes individuals, programs, organizations, or teams that have instituted innovative approaches for securing financial restoration for crime victims.
- Recipient: Asset Forfeiture Unit and Financial Litigation Program in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville.
- The Victims Research Award recognizes individual researchers or research teams who made a significant contribution to the nation’s understanding of crime victim issues.
- Recipient: John Chapin, Ph.D., Monaca, Pennsylvania.
- The Crime Victims’ Rights Award honors the dedicated champions throughout our nation whose efforts to advance or enforce crime victims’ rights have benefited victims of crime at the state, Tribal, or national level.
- Recipient: Derek Marchman, Conyers, Georgia.
- The Federal Service Award recognizes federal agency personnel for service to victims of federal, Tribal, or military crimes.
- Recipient: Environmental Crime Victim Assistance Team, Washington, D.C.
- The National Crime Victim Service Award honors extraordinary efforts to provide direct services to crime victims.
- Recipient: Brenda J. Muhammad, Atlanta, Georgia and Michelle L. Shae, Abbottstown, Pennsylvania.
- The Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award honors leadership, innovation, and vision that lead to noteworthy changes in public policy on behalf of crime victims.
- Recipient: The Every Voice Coalition, Boston, Massachusetts.
- The Special Courage Award honors extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of a crime or courageous act on behalf of a victim or potential victim.
- Recipients: Gail Frances Gardner, Ocoee, Florida and Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman, Seattle, Washington.
- The Volunteer for Victims Award recognizes individuals who serve without compensation.
- Recipient: Linda Stambaugh, Newell, South Dakota.
“The Office for Victims of Crime works every day to support victims in every corner of our country, ensuring that no crime survivor feels voiceless, marginalized, or alone,” said OVC Director Kristina Rose. “Through their tireless work, boundless capacity for empathy, and fierce devotion to justice, these award recipients have made it possible for victims to find their voice and to begin, with a feeling of hope, the long journey toward healing.”
During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, victim advocacy organizations, community groups and state, local, and Tribal agencies traditionally host rallies, candlelight vigils, and other events to raise awareness of victims’ rights and services. This year, many communities are organizing virtual gatherings and online public awareness campaigns.