MADISON — Several citizens gathered Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Madison to honor and remember victims of crime with a flag raising ceremony and other events.
Christina Ingels, who works for the Boone County Prosecutors Office and was formerly the Victims’ Advocate for the Prosecutor’s Office, gave the opening remarks for the ceremony.
“We are gathered here today to honor National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which began April 6th and runs through Saturday, April 12th,” Ingels said. “The theme this year is “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice” and the theme colors are cornflower blue and black.”
Ingels said the theme honors the extraordinary progress we have made on behalf of millions of victims since the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 1984.
“Before this historic legislation was enacted, the world was very different for crime victims, their families, and communities,” she explained. “Local service providers who could meet victims’ needs for support, counseling, or shelter were few. The Criminal justice system too often failed to recognize victims need to include in the justice process. Crime victim compensation programs were not consistently available and had no source of federal justice system.”
The Crime Victims Compensation Fund, which was established by VOCA, had propelled systemic change throughout the nation, according to Ingels, helping to create an infrastructure of support for victim and compensation – one that relies not on taxpayer dollars but on fines and penalties paid by criminal offenders in the federal justice system.
“Thirty Years is not an invitation to rest on three decades of progress – although much has been accomplished – but a reminder of the work still before us to restore the balance of justice to all those harmed by crime,” said Ingels. “Each of you are here today for a specific reason. Some are here for support of others, some are here to represent themselves, and others are here to remember and honor their loved ones who in the event of being victimized are no longer with us. For each of you I say thank you. And For the victims themselves and the families of victims who are not here I commend you for standing strong and reclaiming your lives from that moment on. If you are here today and are a victim of crime, or the family member of a victim of crime, this ceremony is for you.”
Several years ago, in memory of crime victims, the Boone Crime Victim volunteers, along with the support of the Madison City Council had the Victims Memorial tree and plaque established here and each year have honored crime victims with this flag raising ceremony.
The flag was designed and purchased by the Boone Crime Victim Volunteers to symbolize victims’ rights and needs.
In addition to this tradition, the volunteers have put together a memorial wreath to honor those we have tragically lost due to victimization.
Rev. Larry Halley closed the ceremony with a prayer.
Halley, who lost a son to a violent crime, said he would like to see someone propose a bill to the state Legislature that would become a law to assist victims of violent crimes with costs incurred when investigating or doing research on criminal cases.
“They call it the criminal justice system and they got that name right because the only justice seems to be available to the criminals, he said. I would like to see a victims’ justice system,” he said.
Rev. Halley said victims and their family must pay for things like court documents and transcripts, while criminal defendants are given everything for free.
“Where is the justice for the victims and their families?” he asked. “This must change and I pray that someone with pull or power can get justice for victims and their families.”
Ingel said the victims’ rights movement face multiple, complex challenges in reaching out to victims. There is a demanding commitment to action as long-standing types of victimization continue, she added.
A moment of silence was observed as well as the annual flag raising ceremony.
“I would like to thank everyone again for attending today’s ceremony,” Ingels added. “I would especially like to thank Jenni Payne, Carol Cottrell, and Ruthann Delong for donating their time and talent in making the memorial wreath that is here today. I would also like to thank Patty Price, JoAnn Lowery, and Carol Massey-Price for their continued dedication in being crime victim volunteers.”
Patty Price said prior to 2001, Boone County had never heard of a National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
“Not until my sister-in-law JoAnn Lowery’s cousin Brenda Linville was brutally murdered by her own daughter Morgan, and Morgan boyfriend Paul Greenlief,” she recalled. “After that, we began tyrying tyo help other victims by offering our support by going to court hearings with them, listening to them, or helping in any way we could. Brenda was always a blood donor and to honor her we have a Red Cross Blood Drive every year, which was held on Friday, April 11.”
Another volunteer, Carol Massey Price got involved after her niece’s two children lost their lives in a house fire that was deliberately set in Kanawha County.
“Addison was age 7 and A.J. Neeley was only age 3,” Price said. “That was 2005. It remains a cold case and no justice has been served.”
The newest volunteer Jenni Payne became involved after her father-in-law, Carmel Wooten, was robbed, brutally beaten and left for dead, Price said.
“He died a few months later from head trauma caused from the beating,” she said. “That was in 2012.”
Price said anyone that has become of victim of crime and needs support from the volunteers is urged to contact her at 304-369-5240 or 304-784-2265.
(Editor’s note: A mistake on one of the victims name on the victims’ list read, Devonna Lusk, and it should have been Lynn Lusk.)