In his ongoing efforts to help improve responses to victims, Attorney General Andy Beshear and his Office of Victims Advocacy have created a statewide map of victim advocates that includes local and regional prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.
A core mission of Beshear’s is to seek justice for victims, and the map is necessary to strengthen and publicize the network of victim advocacy across the Commonwealth, Beshear said.
“We are focused on empowering victims of crime, including advancing victim-centered services, trainings and policy, and raising awareness,” Beshear said. “This map will guide survivors and their families to the appropriate agency in their county or region who can counsel them and advise them of their rights as victims.”
The map provides information on the state’s victim advocates – county attorneys, commonwealth’s attorneys, sheriffs’ offices, police departments and the AG’s office.
Beshear said Kentuckians become victims every day from surviving the violent death of a family member, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, gun violence and other violent crimes. Having information about their rights and access to advocacy may help victims in their healing and pursuit of justice, he said.
Beshear’s Office of Victims Advocacy will host the Victims Assistance Conference June 13 and 14 in Frankfort at the Administrative Office of the Courts to train victim advocates, survivor leaders, prosecutors, law enforcement and other allied professionals.
At the conference, Beshear’s office will present the inaugural Attorney General Distinguished Service Award to Marlene Zimmerman. Zimmerman is a victim advocate with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office of Domestic Violence, Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit. Zimmerman is being recognized for “her tireless commitment, distinguished service and significant contribution to protecting victims’ rights to justice, and to improving the treatment of crime victims over the past 23 years,” Beshear said.
The conference will feature national speaker Julie Brand. Participants may choose from multiple workshops and plenary sessions for new, intermediate and advanced victim advocates. Educational topics include promoting resiliency for victims/self; ethics in victim services; examining hate crimes; navigating human trafficking cases; stalking; and sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) kit research.
Beshear provided $4.5 million in settlement money to lawmakers in 2016 to fund requested Kentucky State Police crime lab upgrades and an additional $1 million from the settlement to aid law enforcement and prosecutors in conducting victim-centered investigations and prosecuting sexual assault offenders.
Along with funding, Beshear has created a survivors council; held multiple state trainings on the SAFE kit backlog; launched a collaborative research project with the University of Louisville to provide accountability to address the backlog; and collaborated with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs to hold the #VoiceOfJustice video contest to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus.