Crime Victims Rights Week kicks off with breakfast

By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent

Tammi Lambert said dealing with the court system is almost as hard on the victims as the crime itself.

Lambert, director of the Governor’s Office of Victim Advocacy, related a story about one victim’s plight during Tuesday’s 4th annual Victims Crime Rights Week breakfast at the Clovis Civic Center.

“She was kidnapped and brutally raped. It took five hours for that event, but it took five years to get through the court system,” Lambert said. “She said, ‘I’ve got to tell you, the second rape was the worst.’”

The breakfast kicked off a weeklong of activities planned by the district attorney’s office in Clovis and Portales as part of National Crime Victims Rights Week.

Lambert’s speech focused on a program initiated by her office that entails having representatives from city agencies form a “team” whose basic focus is the rights of crime victims.

Lambert said one in four women are victims of an attempted rape at one point in their lives. Only 6 percent of those crimes are reported and just under half of those are successfully prosecuted.

Although efforts on behalf of crime victims go beyond the scope of rape, that is the particular area of interest of Amber Hamilton — one of those recognized at the breakfast for their work in the community.

Hamilton who works with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners of the 9th Judicial District, said getting victims to access the available services is the biggest problem in her field.

“You might not be a victim, but sometime in your life you’ll either experience it directly or indirectly,” Hamilton said. “Our goal is to make people aware that there are programs out there and resources for these victims to come forth.”

The district attorney’s office will also spend the week speaking to local educational institutions, civic organizations, and senior citizen groups about crime victims’ rights and the justice system, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.