Thursday, December 15, 2005

Accomplishments in Tennessee's DOC Victim Services

I just received this update from Sheryl DeMott, Victim Services Director, for the DOC in Tennessee. Over the last two years, I've worked with Sheryl as a speaker in their Victim Impact program that reaches out to inmates that are preparing to be paroled and reintegrated into society. It was truly a rewarding experience and very inspiring to see that there are advocates fighting from within the system. Sheryl is a superstar!

Parole hearing assistance for Victims
All registered parties requesting parole hearing notification receive information from the Board of Probation and Parole explaining the process. The Department of Correction provides accompaniment and separate waiting areas for all persons attending the hearing.

Victim Impact for Inmates
The class is in ALL institutions. As a part of a pilot program for 2006, two institutions will increase class time to 30 hours per person! We will have two persons trained to train the trainers! Our evaluation process is changing... and improving.

Victim Awareness Training
Staff at most institutions have been trained in victim awareness, and many have heard a person speak directly about the impact of crime. In addition, one hour of victim impact training is now included in the annual CORE training for all Correction Officers. This change is bringing the "rest of the story" to the forefront with prison staff. The Victim Services office has also participated in many community training events, including the Sex Offender Treatment Conference in August and the Criminal Justice classes at South East Career College.

Victim of Crime Speakers
The list is growing! I am so grateful for additional speakers.

Video for Victims of Capital Punishment cases
As of this date, the taping is completed, and editing is in progress. We're looking forward to having our new resource available to all registered victims involved in the post-conviction through execution phase of incarceration. Many persons who have been involved in some aspect of this system were vital participants.

Victim Advisory Group
A beginning workgroup to help organize Victim Services work has been able to meet and provide some assistance.

Streamlined legal mandated services
Thanks to our computer services department, our legal work is improved and more time effective than ever. We are responding with faster, more legible notifications to an increased number of requests.

Increased Victim Services Staff
Thanks to the remarkable help of two new persons assigned to assist Victim Services workm we now have persons in the office who can assist with email and telephone calls. In addition, projects can move forward more professionally and effectively.

Our main focus is the development of dialogue for victims or family members of violent crime who choose to meet directly with his/her offender.