VIRGINIA CITY – At their regular meeting on Tuesday the Madison County Board of Commissioners carried a motion in support of a grant application to continue the Victims Witness Advocacy Program.
The goal of the Victims Witness Advocacy office is to offer guidance for victims throughout the court process and reduce the trauma associated with being victimized, said Amy Donovan, who serves as Victims Advocate for Madison County.
The program provides intervention as soon as possible after a violent crime occurs to reduce the negative impact and consequences that go along with being the victim of a violent crime.
“To get them to go through the entire process,” Donovan says of victims who may otherwise slip through cracks in the legal system for any number of reasons. “The most important thing is to give them enough support to hang in there so we can prosecute.”
Often times it can be a difficult and frightening experience for victims to face their perpetrators in the courtroom. The services provided by the advocacy program include direct support services and personal advocacy such as counseling, crisis intervention and referral to other service agencies.
Providing that level of support is no small task. The federal grant application to the Montana Board of Crime Control for the amount of $28,000 would help cover the cost of mental health and counseling services for juveniles and adults as well as emergency travel, medical expenses and office supplies.
The advocacy program aims to develop trust and build support for victims in the criminal justice system by ensuring protection for victims and witnesses during prosecution, minimizing the stress and trauma that victims of violent crimes typically experience and seeing that perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“I think one of the biggest things is doing whatever I can to support that victim,” Donovan said.
While she might not fit the archetypal image of a superhero flying in to save the day, Amy Donavan provides victims with a shoulder to lean on as they deal with the difficulties of the criminal justice system. For more information about Madison County’s Victim/Witness Advocacy Program call 843 – 5249.