Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Corrections is recognizing Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 8-14) by holding commemorative events at all 25 state prisons and state community corrections centers.
“Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a time when inmates in all Pennsylvania prisons are asked to recognize the consequences of their actions and give something back to those who were victimized,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “We believe we are the only state to hold events in every institution.”
Across the state, prisons are hosting dozens of programs, including writing and art contests that incorporate poetry, songs and essays on this year’s theme of “Expand the Circle, Reach All Victims.”
Prisons have organized fund-raisers for victims’ services groups and service day activities, including making teddy bears and blankets for children at shelters, and facilities are showing victim-focused movies, holding impact-of-crime classes and providing presentations from crime victims. Several prisons are hosting events focused on trauma care for staff.
“Each year we set aside time to reflect upon the harm done to our crime victims in Pennsylvania,” said Jennifer Storm, Pennsylvania’s Victim Advocate. “While crime victims are at the center of all of the work we do, it’s important to designate this time specifically to acknowledge them. I am proud to say that for three years in a row all of our state institutions and community corrections centers are doing something to honor crime victims. When we actively engage in repairing the harm done, we pave the way for fewer crime victims.”
The focus of the DOC and Office of Victim Advocate on victims’ rights in prisons extends beyond the week of special recognition to include:
- Day of Responsibility. Most prisons have victim-related speakers come in to speak to inmates one day each year, followed by group breakouts for the inmates and citizens who are invited to attend.
- Impact of Crime classes. A voluntary, interactive and educational program designed to raise inmates’ awareness about the impact of crime on victims and increase their level of accountability and empathy toward those they have harmed.
- Inmate apology bank. Inmates may write letters to victims or victims’ families, which are then sent to Office of Victim Advocate where they are reviewed and held until such time as victims wish to receive them.
- Crime victim restitution. DOC inmates work at various jobs to pay their fines, restitution and victim compensation. In 2017 the total distributed from state prison inmates was $7.2 million.
MEDIA CONTACT: Amy Worden, 717-728-4026
# # #