Without victim advocates, those affected by crime would have nowhere to turn in a time of crisis.
San Juan County has experienced a surge in cases of murder, suicide, domestic violence and sexual assault in the last year, which means more victims are in need of support from the prosecutor’s office.
Thanks to recent federal and state funding, the victim services program is getting a $34,000 financial boost.
“We have longed for an office with two full-time employees since 2008 so that we can provide continuity in services,” said Prosecutor Randy Gaylord. “We have been waiting for this opportunity and are pleased that federal and state agencies recognized the value.”
The state-wide funding will be used to strengthen victim/witness programs in prosecutors offices. In San Juan County, this means increasing the hours of one advocate from part-time to fulltime – without increasing the financial contribution from the county. The council’s discretionary funds pay $12,000 towards the crime victims services budget of $184,000. The rest comes from grants.
The program will now have two full-time advocates who assist with referring to counseling, filing protection orders, securing restitution, staying informed about cases and being present for interviews or appearances in court. Advocates are particularly committed to help child victims and their families. They work with other organizations in the county to make sure the victims’ needs are being met. For more information, call the office at 378-4101.
“Having crime victim advocates work full-time with the same hours as prosecutors and courts allows them to provide the best possible service to victims of crime,” Gaylord said. “Victim advocates provide a crucial function in keeping victims informed of the steps in the criminal justice process.”