New York State Crime Victims' Memorial

 

The New York State Crime Victims' Memorial, paying tribute to loved-ones who were killed or injured as a result of crime, is set on the grounds of the Empire State Plaza at the Capital in Albany. This memorial is in the park area directly behind the Legislative Office Building where several other statewide memorials are situated.

The monument is a large limestone and calcite boulder with a plaque containing the following inscription:

Dedicated to all New York State men,
Women and Children and their Families who are victims of crime.
May Justice Prevail.

In 1997, the Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims' Rights, Inc. created a brick walkway leading to the monument. Each brick is inscribed with the name of a crime victim. Currently, there are over 365 bricks.

The creation of the memorial and walkway was a collaborative effort involving survivors of crime, New York State government, the Police Conference of New York, Inc. and local businesses.

For further information about dedicating a brick, please contact:

Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims' Rights, Inc.
P.O. Box 10505
Albany, NY 12201
518-377-1660 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            518-377-1660      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Victims of September 11th are invited to participate.

During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, the coalition holds a dedication ceremony at the memorial, at which time the names on the bricks are read aloud. At this year's ceremony, held on April 28, victims presented personal testimonials and remarks were offered by various elected officials including Lt. Governor Mary Donohue, Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings and County Executive Michael Breslin. The speech delivered by Attorney General Spitzer is below.


THE NEW YORK STATE CRIME VICTIMS' MEMORIAL REMARKS
SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2001


INTRODUCTION

Thank you Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims' Rights, Inc. and President Pat Gioia for inviting me to speak at today's Memorial Dedication Ceremony for New York State Crime Victims.

It is a privilege for me to be here with crime victims and survivors, service providers, criminal justice professionals and law enforcement agencies to commemorate the 21st Anniversary of National Crime Victims' Week. As we dedicate this year's bricks, we remember our loved ones who have been killed and honor those who have been injured by crime. This annual ceremony and permanent monument help us cherish the enduring memories of those who were taken suddenly away; embrace those who have triumphed over trauma and pain; and, demonstrate our continuing commitment to the pursuit of justice for survivors.

PAYING TRIBUTE

National Crime Victims' Week is a special time to reflect upon the many contributions that crime victims and their advocates have made to our community and nation. It is also a time to think about what lies ahead.

As we pay tribute to survivors-we are inspired by their courage and personal sacrifice.

As we celebrate advocates-we are also inspired by their extraordinary altruism in helping others in the healing process. Each day, activists and advocates like shining stars, generate bright light, as they tend to the needs of victims, seeking justice and ensuring that the dignity of victims is honored.

It is their strength and perseverance that motivates us-public servants and private citizens-to continue to find solutions to curtail violence and promote justice.

This year's theme, "Victim Rights: Reach for the Stars" emphasizes the enduring hope and aspirations of our nation to treat crime victims with greater respect and compassion and to hold offenders accountable for their actions. Reach for the stars encourages us to set our sights high in providing comprehensive, quality services to victims of crime.

More than three decades ago, crime victim advocates reached for the stars and dared to dream that victim rights would be more than an oxymoron. They envisioned what was once a seemingly unreachable star.

Crime victims and their advocates opened courtroom doors that were previously shut, spoke up when the culture was to be silent, and demanded basic information about their cases.

It was not too far in the distant past that domestic violence was considered a family matter, rape victims were blamed for violence they endured and drunk driving was deemed an accident and not a crime.

Significant progress has been realized. Not only have crime victim concerns been placed on the forefront of America's policy agenda, but over 30,000 laws have been passed at the federal, state and local levels that promote victim rights and services. In fact, this year represents the 25th anniversary of the victim impact statement which offers our criminal justice system important insights into the emotional, physical and financial effects of crime on its victims.

In "reaching for the stars of safety and justice," crime victims and their advocates have helped not only individuals affected by crime, but entire communities. Advocates have provided the impetus for a greater focus on early intervention and crime prevention that results in fewer victimizations. Advocates and activists are involved in helping communities realize their stake and key role in pursuing justice as volunteers for victims, members of neighborhood initiatives and crime watch groups and as mentors to "at risk" youth.

And thankfully, these laws and initiatives have been accompanied by dramatic decreases in violent crime. Between 1998 and 1999, violent crime rates declined ten percent-the lowest level ever recorded in the history of the National Crime Victimization Survey. Last year's murder rate hit a 33 year low and during this same period, property crimes experienced a nine percent decline. New York State continues to lead the way with nearly an eight percent decrease in crime.

Here in New York, we have seen the passage of key legislation from Megan's law to Jenna's law and statutes that help district attorneys prosecute with stiffer penalties under-reported crimes such as sexual assault and bias crimes. We also have witnessed the passage of new laws applying state-of-the art technology to track guns used in crimes and to collect and analyze DNA for the identification of perpetrators.

A CALL TO ACTION

But if we are going to break the cycles of violence and crime in our society and make victimization a rare and aberrational occurrence, we must recommit our individual and collective energy to expand rights, services, and crime prevention initiatives.

We have a moral obligation to continue to raise our voices in order to magnify the voices of those marred by crime, who can no longer speak for themselves or can't tell of the humiliating degradation that confronts victims of assault or abuse.

We must continue to REACH FOR THE STARS so that our children and teachers will not fear going to school.

We can achieve this goal by offering schools the tools and resources to teach non-violent conflict resolution, support students who are bullied and abused and promote greater tolerance.

We must continue to REACH FOR THE STARS so that our future includes fewer victims of gun violence.

We can accomplish this by writing new laws, pursuing litigation, using economic incentives, and educating the public to hold accountable the gun industry who profits from their irresponsible production, distribution and sales practices.

We must continue to REACH FOR THE STARS so that communities are thriving and free from the scourge of drugs.

We can realize this priority by engaging neighborhoods, prosecuting drug traffickers and also holding liable landlords who allow their properties to be used as hotbeds for drug activity.

We must continue to REACH FOR THE STARS so our grandmothers and grandfathers will not be dependent upon abusive home health attendants.

We can respond to this national disgrace by taking steps to check and investigate the backgrounds of those we hire and trust with the care of our loved ones.

We must continue to REACH FOR THE STARS so we won't lose anymore people to drunk driving.

We can attain significant reductions in alcohol-related crashes by revoking the drivers' licenses of repeat offenders, increasing penalties for drivers with high blood-alcohol content and lowering the "per se" level of intoxication.

We must continue to REACH FOR THE STARS so that victims of crimes perpetrated by the mentally ill will have parallel rights to those victims who are prosecuted and found guilty through the criminal justice system.

We can bring about this change by enacting legislation to provide victims with information about critical proceedings and allow them the opportunity to prepare written and oral statements detailing the impact of the crime.

CONCLUSION

As we go forth into our communities, let us be reinvigorated and empowered by starlight to alleviate the pain and suffering of crime victims, to honor their presence and rights in the justice system, and to pursue the value that a united community will lead to safer and healthier neighborhoods.

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