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WHEREAS, the Virginia Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act ensures all victims are treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity; and
WHEREAS, crime victims' rights promote victim participation in the criminal justice system, bringing balance to the system; and
WHEREAS, crime victims who have experienced life changing, traumatic events deserve compassionate support and services that are victim-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally competent, and that meet their individual needs to promote hope, healing, and resilience; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased risk for families and individuals living in dangerous environments and has reinforced our need to identify and serve the Commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens; and
WHEREAS, the devastating socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affect our most vulnerable survivors and fully supporting these survivors requires continued investment in social, political, and financial resources; and
WHEREAS, crime victims’ rights are more critical now than ever, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, current anti-racism efforts, and more, in order to start rebuilding the criminal justice system's role in supporting our communities; and
WHEREAS, access to crime victim services for traditionally underserved populations helps combat systemic racism and promotes equity of outcomes for those facing violence and trauma; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services provides over $70 million in state and federal grants to support approximately 360 crime victim assistance projects throughout Virginia; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of victim advocates around the Commonwealth provided skillful support amidst varying crises over the past year and continue to assist victims and their families regardless of what challenges arise; and
WHEREAS, the theme for this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, “Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities,” recognizes the progress and impact of the collaborative work of victim advocates dedicated to serving crime victims, and calls upon communities to work together to improve the response to all victims of crime;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize April 18-24, 2021, as CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS WEEK in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.