District attorney's office creates Victim’s Resource Center
February 20, 2018 06:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- There is a new place for victims of violent crime. District Attorney Raul Torrez and Bernalillo County leaders say the new Victim’s Resource Center will be a safe, comfortable place for victims to visit at the district attorney’s office.
Victims have been waiting to see attorneys in the same lobby where many people in custody are transported, and perpetrators families frequent. Now, there is a separate space just for victims.
There is still a lot of construction to do, but several cubicles are already set up where seven nonprofits have agreed to have an employee stationed so they can offer victim’s support in the same place they are getting legal advice or updates on court cases.
It's a process victim advocate Joan Shirley understands all too well.
"In 1999, our son Kevin was murdered along with his friends Matt and Louis in the east mountains," Shirley she said.
It took 7 1/2 years for someone to be arrested for her son’s murder. The trial ended with an acquittal, but Shirley is thankful they got their day in court and is now working to help others in similar situations.
"I needed to pay back the people who had supported me," she said
Shirley says she had an amazing support system, but that isn’t usually the case.
"There's just too many and there's not enough time, there's not enough staff,” she said.
In addition to nonprofit representatives, the Victim Resource Center will have meeting spaces, a kitchen, a lounge, and even a service dog.
"This is the kind of support that we need to provide to victims," Torrez said.
This is the second resource center of its kind in the country, Torrez said, modeled after a center in Arizona. He said many of the people who visit his office are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse. They are highly traumatized and need a quiet, private place where they can get help.
Shirley said it also provides a space for victim’s families to wait for a court hearing or a jury decision, without having to be at the courthouse right next to the alleged perpetrators family.
"When you're put together in a very small space, it's just so uncomfortable," Shirley said.
The center is expected to be finished by mid-May.
Updated: February 20, 2018 06:22 PM
Created: February 20, 2018 02:53 PM
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