FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Angela Hale – 512-289-2995 /angela@redmediagroup.com

Austin, Texas—April 22, 2013This week Texans are commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Statewide organizations that serve victims of crime will be holding a series of events to raise awareness about crime victim issues.

Tree Planting on Capitol Grounds to Honor & Remember Suzanne McDaniel

A tree will be planted on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol to celebrate the life and honor the memory of Suzanne McDaniel.  Suzanne was a pioneering crime victims’ rights advocate who ushered in a new era of support and assistance for victims of crime across Texas and the nation.  In 1976, she created the first prosecutor-based victim services program in Texas in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.  She also worked helping victims of crimes for the Attorney General’s office and Congressman Ted Poe’s U.S. Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus named an award in her name to honor victim advocates who follow Suzanne’s path.   She passed away in 2012 after a long battle with cancer.  The tree planting ceremony will be Monday April 22, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on the south lawn of the Capitol Grounds between the Capitol and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

 Exclusive Screening of Heaven’s Rain – Based on the True Story of Crime Survivor Brooks Douglass

Brooks Douglass is a victim, survivor, father, husband, brother, and son.  At a young age, Mr. Douglass and his sister, Leslie, were both shot and witnessed the murder of   their mother and father in their own home.  In an attempt to address some of the injustices that he and his sister faced as crime victims, Brooks enrolled in law school.  One month before receiving his law degree, he was elected as the youngest State Senator in Oklahoma history.  Since then, Mr. Douglass has been serving victims of crime and changing laws to help guide victims through the criminal justice system.  Mr. Douglass also co-wrote and produced the movie Heaven’s Rain about his life, in which he played his father. He lives in Plano.

The movie screening will be held on the UT Campus on Monday, April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Utopia Theatre, School of Social Work, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd.

Crime Victims’ Rights Ceremony

The ceremony is a way to provide communities across the United States with a unique way to raise awareness about crime-victim issues, by identifying and reaching out to victims who need our help, and by thinking anew about how to help individuals and communities harmed by crime.

The 2013 theme—New Challenges-New Solutions - reflects the increasingly complex mission of victim advocates today. We face emerging challenges, such as globalization, changing demographics, immigration, human trafficking, terrorism, new types of crime, and the use of technology both to commit and solve crimes. We also confront enduring challenges. Victims’ rights are not universal and often not enforced. Victims do not always receive the dignity and respect they deserve. Victims often absorb the physical, emotional, and financial costs of crime largely by themselves.

Many victims of crime will gather at the ceremony to remember their loved ones and bring awareness to the victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, drunken driving and a host of other crimes perpetrated on victims.

If you would like to attend any of the events, you can click on the link below to register or you can watch the crime victims’ ceremony, which will be streamed online for the very first time.

The ceremony will be held Tuesday, April 23 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover Ave.

http://crimevictimsrights.eventbrite.com

The Texas observance of Crime Victims’ Rights Week is being organized by Austin area victim service agencies that serve Texans across the state.


Crime Victims Rights Week Planning Committee:

Advancing Victim Rights Law in Texas Workgroup

Austin Police Department

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas

Crime Victims’ Institute, Sam Houston State University

CrimeStoppers

For the Love of Christi

Institute for Restorative Justice, UT – Austin

Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, UT – Austin

Jennifer’s Hope

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

People Against Violent Crime

Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

Texas Council on Family Violence

Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Department of Public Safety, Victim Services

Texas Legal Services Center

Texas Office of the Attorney General

Texas Office of the Governor

Travis County Sheriff’s Office

Texas District and County Attorneys Association

Texas Victim Services Association