Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today recognized 13 individuals and teams for their advocacy on behalf of victims of crime. The award recipients were honored virtually during the annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony.
“Every day, we bear witness to stirring acts of heroism on the part of compassionate and courageous advocates – and crime victims themselves,” said Attorney General Garland. “One of our responsibilities is to ensure that victims are informed, have a voice, and are supported in the healing process. To the exceptional men and women we honor today – thank you for your service to crime victims, for your commitment to the safety of your communities, and for working to make America a more just and more compassionate place.”
The awardees were selected from public nominations in 10 categories, including federal service, special courage, public policy and victim services. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a component of the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, putting crime victims’ rights, needs and concerns in a prominent spot on the American agenda. He also established the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, which laid the groundwork for a national network of services and legal safeguards for crime victims. The 40th observance of NCVRW takes place this year, April 18-24, and features the theme, “Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities.”
According to the Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1.2 million Americans age 12 and older were victims of violent crime, excluding simple assault, in 2019, down from 1.4 million in 2018. An estimated 12.8 million U.S. households experienced one or more property victimizations. OVC supports more than 7,000 local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state and U.S. territory. Funds for these programs come from the Crime Victims Fund, which is made up of federal criminal fines, penalties and bond forfeitures.
“We come together each year during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to show that we are united in our commitment to making sure all crime victims feel heard, respected and remembered,” said OJP Acting Assistant Attorney General Maureen A. Henneberg. “We honor these outstanding public safety professionals and advocates who work so hard to support crime victims as they walk the path from trauma to healing.”
Following is a list of the award recipients:
- The Allied Professional Award recognizes individuals working outside the victim assistance field for their service to victims.
Recipient: Pfawnn Eskee, Montezuma Creek, Utah.
- The Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services recognizes a program, organization or individual who expands the reach of victims’ rights and services.
Recipient: JoNell Efantis Potter, PhD, Miami, Florida.
- The Federal Service Award recognizes federal agency personnel for service to victims of federal, tribal or military crimes.
Recipient: Acquanette Lindsay, Dayton, Ohio.
- The First Responders Award recognizes an individual from the law enforcement, emergency services, firefighters and rescue professions for extraordinary acts of valor toward crime victims.
Recipients: John Guard, Greenville, North Carolina; and Robin Taylor, Chardon, Ohio.
- The National Crime Victim Service Award honors extraordinary efforts to provide direct services to crime victims.
Recipient: The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, Las Vegas, Nevada; and Jennifer Dunn, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
- The Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award honors leadership, innovation and vision that lead to noteworthy changes in public policy on behalf of crime victims.
Recipient: Jeannette M. Adkins, Bellbrook, Ohio.
- The Special Courage Award honors extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of a crime or courageous act on behalf of a victim or potential victim.
Recipients: Jennifer Elmore, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Jennifer Luther, Tallahassee, Florida.
- The Tomorrow’s Leaders Award recognizes youth up to 24 years old for efforts to support crime victims.
Recipient: Sachiri Henderson, Shreveport, Louisiana.
- The Victims Rights Legend Award recognizes an individual whose work over an extended period of time has resulted in positive and substantial change in the field of victim advocacy and/or victims’ rights.
Recipient: Victor I. Vieth, Lewiston, Minnesota.
- The Volunteer for Victims Award recognizes individuals who serve without compensation.
Recipient: Tricia L. Everest, Nichols Hills, Oklahoma.
“It is important for us as a country to set aside time during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to honor victims and to recognize those who advocate for resources and policies designed to meet the many serious challenges victims face,” said OVC Acting Director Katherine Darke Schmitt. “Few people expect to be a victim, and no one deserves the pain and injustice that burden every crime survivor. We should take it upon ourselves this week, and every week, to show our unity with and compassion for those who have experienced the pain of victimization.”
During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, victim advocacy organizations, community groups and state, local and tribal agencies traditionally host rallies, candlelight vigils and other events to raise awareness of victims’ rights and services. This year, many communities are organizing virtual gatherings and online public awareness campaigns.
To learn more about past NCVRW recipients, visit www.ovc.gov/gallery.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.