Standing up for Victims of Murder

April, 2012

The Merrimack Valley Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, (POMC) invites you to the 4th Annual Candlelight Vigil on April 23, 2012, in recognition of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. This year’s theme, Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim” and the theme colors are blue and black.

The event opens at the Lowell Senior Center 5PM with informational booths and social gathering. We then will culminate for the candlelight walk at 7:30PM and proceed to City Hall at where the speaking engagement will take place. Some of the speakers who will be in attendance are, Senator Eileen Donoghue, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Rep. Tom Golden and Community VOICES, Laurie Myers.

Also speaking is Assistant DA Pam Wechsler, Chief of the Lowell Region for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. ADA Wechsler has a lengthy and extensive career as a prosecutor, holding leadership positions at the Suffolk DA’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Justice before taking a hiatus to write for television crime dramas, including Canterbury’s Law, Conviction and three Law and Order series (Law and Order, Trial by Jury and Criminal Intent).

(Please note: If it rains we will have the vigil at the Senior Center.)

2012 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week will recall the ideals that inspired the decades-long struggle of the victims’ rights movement and challenge all Americans to honor victims’ rights. This event is for all survivors of all crimes.

“We will have information booths for anyone looking for help,” said Arnie Muscovitz, Chapter Leader of the Merrimack Valley Chapter of POMC. Mr. Muscovitz went on to say “This is a great awareness tool and hopefully it would make people more educated and prevent these horrible crimes from happening.”

Only a few decades ago, unfairness, indignities, and disrespect confronted many victims of crime. Victims of Crime in America, the 1984 report of the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, described a “hellish” justice system, focused on offenders and indifferent to victims’ needs.

As of 2010, every state has passed victims’ rights laws, and 32 states have constitutional victims’ rights amendments. All states have victim compensation funds, and more than 10,000 victim assistance programs exist throughout the country. Such changes have made victims participants, rather than bystanders, in the criminal justice system.

Yet much work remains. Victims’ rights are not always enforced. Some victims receive no notice when a trial is scheduled or an offender released. Some courts deny victims’ right to be heard at sentencing or to be present at trials, or they fail to order restitution or issue protection orders to keep victims safe.

Some victims never learn about victim compensation or receive victim services, an increasing reality during our current economic downturn. Such failures block victims’ access to their rights.

“Arnie Muscovitz has been a tireless advocate for the families of victims and we are grateful for all that he continues to do,” said Senator Eileen Donoghue.

“Community cooperation is vital to ending these acts of violence, and we cannot cooperate unless we communicate. This day is important for encouraging communication on the issues facing victims’ families.”

Community members are encouraged to join in the week’s activities and get involved in helping victims of crime. “Without Arnie Muscovitz and his leadership, the knowledge of how many families locally and nationally who have been impacted with such tragedy has such a profound effect, says Mayor Patrick Ó. MurphyI leave you with this……… “The death of a loved one leaves a heartache no one can heal, the love of a loved one leaves a memory no one can steal.”.