Thursday, April 22, 2010

National Crime Victims' Right Week

April 18-24 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week. This week is designed to help communities and assistance groups promote awareness for crime victim issues. This year, the theme of the week is "crime victims' rights: FAIRNESS. DIGNITY. RESPECT."

A tree planting ceremony was held at Mozingo Lake as a way to honor victims. The ceremony was opened with a welcome by Tom Seipel, Probation and Parole District Administrator, followed by a musical performance by Maryville High School Spectrum Choir.

An invocation was said by Father Kenneth Reichert, OSB of Conception Abbey. Then Rick Bradley, Chief Juvenile Officer of the 4th Judicial Circuit Court led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Pro-Tem Shawn Wake then read a Proclamation from the Mayor's office declaring this Crime Victims' Rights Week. This was followed by a speech from Associate Circuit Judge of Worth County Joel Miller.

A tree was then symbolically planted by Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney David Baird, MTC Warden Joe Ledbetter, Tom Seipel, and Judge Joel Miller.

I was then asked to briefly say a few words. Here is what I said ~

In 2007, there were 12,998 alcohol-related crash fatalities. This amounted to 32 percent of all crash fatalities that year. Our daughter, Abrielle Lauryn Neff, is one of those numbers. On March 29, 2007, a driver with alcohol still plaguing his system caused a collision that took her life. We did not choose to be the victims of a crime, as no one does, but after being thrust into the situation, we had only the hope of justice to hold on to.
Justice for us has had to be measured by several factors other than only the amount of time the offender was ordered to serve, as no matter the amount, it will never be enough for us to consider acceptable for taking the life of our little girl. We have instead reflected upon our treatment during the process as a way to validate our justice. We were treated with the utmost respect from every official involved. From the Highway Patrol to the Sheriff’s office to the Prosecuting Attorney, every official kept us informed and involved which is exactly what we wanted and were given an outcome that was considered fair according to the law. We have also been thankful for all the rights that have been established for crime victims. Without them, we would not have been able to present an impact statement at sentencing or a letter at the parole hearing.
Edith Wharton said, “There are only two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” We have chosen to be the candle and have established the Abrielle Neff Foundation in memory of our daughter.

I went on to talk about the Foundation.

My words were followed by a Benediction by Father Reichert and a closing song by Spectrum.

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