Editorial: The good work of helping victims of crime

A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

Crime victims constitute the forgotten people of the criminal justice system. It shouldn’t be that way, yet so it remains. While some progress has been made, such as victim impact statements at sentencing, much remains to be done.

Too often, the focus is on the rights and appeals of convicted criminals. That is not to say that the rights of defendants not convicted should be ignored. There are many advocates for the rights of the convicted, yet too few for the rights and health and welfare of innocent victims.

Victims more often are forgotten. No matter how brutal the crime.

It’s heartening to know that organizations exist to help victims of crime. One such organization exists here in Mercy Health’s Trauma Recovery Center. The center is a much–needed addition to the rights, and care, for victims of crime.

The center has received 1,500 referrals since 2019. They do good and much-needed work. Helping people struggling to survive and improve their lives is always good work.

The center provides resources and counseling referrals for victims of crime. While initially funded by the Attorney General’s Office, Mercy Health has jumped in with financing over the past few years and for that, they deserve much credit.

Often, the organization can offer free or low-cost counseling. The cost of counseling often remains an obstacle for victims, as Blade reporter Ellie Buerk explained in her story on Monday.

The help should not stop there. Victims need not be victimized twice, or thrice.

Victims of domestic violence, for instance, often stand helpless after release of the perpetrators from jail or prison. That society thinks that’s not an issue is unconscionable. Penalties for abusers who continue to persist in abusive behavior must be increased.

For purposes of probation and parole, no contact orders must be in place and in force. Many criminals, once freed from the constraint of a jail cell, contact their victims and mutual children in order to harass victims.

Two points must be made. Help the victims of crime in every way possible. Penalize abusers and other criminals and keep them on a short lease once they’ve been released.

— Toledo Blade, January 17