Archive for March, 2011
With many states struggling to foot the bill to end backlogs of untested evidence including rape kits in crime labs, Wisconsin is poised to take steps to prevent bottlenecks from occurring in the future. The state, which was overwhelmed by testing needs for much of the last decade, seemed to have recently got its historic backlog under control, but it is unclear if a secondary backlog has developed.
However, with law enforcement officials submitting more and more DNA evidence to solve a wide range of crimes, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked for additional support. And despite the state’s much-publicized budget shortfall, Governor Scott Walker has agreed to fund additional staff at the labs to make sure the justice system does not end up with future backlogs.
Wisconsin’s ABC affiliate station said Gov. Walker has agreed to fund six more analysts at a cost of $770,000 over the next two years. The legislature, which has been fighting a contentious battle over the state’s $3.6 billion budget shortfall, will discuss the proposal in the coming months. The Governor said through a spokesperson that even as other government functions are cut, the state must address rising caseloads and provide “the funding for additional More >
One of Endhtebacklog.org’s policy focuses is on ensuring healing and justice for survivors of sexual assault. There’s a lot of people behind this effort and we have tremendous respect for the work of those who help others cope with trauma. This work is not always easy. Today Chris Vargo, Joyful Heart’s New York Manager of Programs shares a bit about vicarious trauma and Joyful Heart’s Heal the Healers program.
Last month, the Joyful Heart Foundation brought individuals from two important worlds together to highlight a commonality between them: their shared risk for developing symptoms of what is known as vicarious trauma (VT).
The JHF Heal the Healers program views the community of individuals who have committed their lives to provide services to and seek justice for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse as healers, and we believe our healers must take care of mind, body and spirit. For this particular workshop, we brought together criminalists from the largest Medical Examiner’s Office in the United States, the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s (OCME) Forensic Biology Department and the New York County Assistant District’s Attorneys (ADAs).
Both of these teams are integral to the efforts to achieve justice for victims of crime and More >
In January, we ran our first Global Dispatch, a recurring feature in which Joyful Heart Foundation showcases the stories of those working around the world to ensure justice and healing for survivors of sexual assault. The first Global Dispatch came from Amy Ernst, a volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country she says is often referred to as “the worst place on earth to be a woman,” where rape is frequently used as a weapon of war. Despite the violence in the region, Amy says she finds hope in the way women create a community of family, strength, love and laughter.
Yesterday, The Huffington Post highlighted Amy in its “Greatest Woman of the Day” column, which is an ongoing series in honor of Women’s History Month. As the column states, the work Amy does with the local non-profit COPERMA would make most people turn away, but she is “determined to confront the issue of rape where the survivors [need] the most help.” It’s great to see HuffPo acknowledge Amy’s efforts and bring greater attention to the situation in the Congo. If you’d like to read more about, follow her blog.
(COPERMA volunteer works with rape survivors in Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Joyful Heart was proud to sponsor the Lydia Martinez Celebration of Excellence, hosted by the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (NYCAASA) on Monday.
The Lydia Martinez Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration Awards were presented to five recipients in honor of the late First Grade Detective C. Lydia Martinez, a remarkable Special Victims Detective in New York City. I had the privilege of meeting Lydia and the strength, compassion and light that emanated from her were incredible. On Monday, her colleagues and friends, many of whom filled the room in which we were sitting, spoke about the indelible effect she had on their lives, the lives of the survivors she served and on the city’s collective response to sexual assault by law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates and medical personnel.
We were there on Monday to remember her legacy and celebrate work of those who follow in her footsteps: volunteer advocate Maegan Corcoran, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner and Coordinator Glenda Guzman, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Violence Intervention and Treatment Program Coordinator Deesha More >
This is last installment of my three-part interview with bestselling crime novelist, former Sex Crimes Unit chief prosecutor of the New York County District Attorney and advocate for rape kit reform, Linda Fairstein. Be sure to read the other two installments here and here.
Sarah Tofte: Back to the question of your career path and how you came to be a writer. What is it that gives you the ability to imagine the world to be different than it currently is?
Linda Fairstein: People always assume because I’ve done this work for so long that I must be a dark person. I’m very much an optimist, and I’m very upbeat. My work primarily is not with offenders and the bad guys and the perpetrators, it’s with people who’ve experienced the worst trauma you can have in a criminal setting. To be part of that solution in the early days and to this minute of being able to give them something, to know that there was a way to restore their dignity and to do it with compassion, that was what kept me there for a very long term.
Now when I went to college, my dream was to write–to become a writer–and I went to a More >