PHOENIX, AZ (March 29, 2011) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery commends the ongoing efforts by the City of Phoenix to ensure that victims of crime are accorded the dignity, respect and services to which they are entitled under Arizona’s Constitution. These efforts were highlighted at a March 23rd, 2011 hearing held by the city’s Finance Efficiency and Innovation Subcommittee chaired by Phoenix City Councilman Bill Gates. Other Subcommittee members include Vice Mayor Thelda Williams, Councilman Tom Simplot and Public Safety Subcommittee Chairman Claude Mattox.
“Citizens of Phoenix are truly fortunate to have such a strong champion of victims’ rights as Councilman Gates, and I deeply appreciate his leadership on this issue,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “As we approach the commemoration of National Victims’ Rights Week, these hearings are a timely and important reminder to all of us that victims’ rights are as critically important as defendants’ rights in ensuring the integrity and fairness of our criminal justice system,” he added.
In testimony before the Subcommittee, Victim Services Administrator Kelly Gremmel, City Prosecutor Aaron J. Carreon-Ainsa and Charging Bureau Chief John Tutelman detailed how the Victim Services Unit in the Prosecutor’s Office helps victims deal with their emotional trauma and provides advocacy and support throughout the criminal justice process in City Court. By contacting victims early, the Unit is able to provide immediate assistance and increase the likelihood that victims will participate in the criminal justice system. The Subcommittee also heard testimony from attorney Steven Twist, author of Arizona’s Victims’ Bill of Rights, who hailed Phoenix as a model for other jurisdictions to emulate, and emphasized the importance of making sure that victims receive required notice of relevant hearings and court proceedings.
“I am enormously proud of what Phoenix has been able to accomplish on behalf of crime victims, particularly in these tough budgetary times,” remarked Councilman Bill Gates. “Thanks to the firm commitment by our local law enforcement agencies and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, we live in a community where the rights of crime victims are given the same weight and respect as those of defendants. Our success is also a tribute to the aggressive efforts by our City Manager, David Cavazos, who has been able to secure critical funding to maintain the excellent programs and services we provide to crime victims,” he added.
In fiscal year 2009/2010, the Victim Services Unit performed critical and legally mandated Victims’ Rights functions and additional services, including:
- the creation and delivery of nearly 105,000 victim notification letters
- providing information to more than 6,300 victims on their rights by voice or person-to-person
- processing more than 800 Impact Statements
- providing restitution rights to more than 4,000 victims
- processing more than 1,000 restitution requests
- providing court escorts to more than 1,400 victims
- arranging cab and transportation services
- developing individual safety plans, providing more than 3,400 safety plans and 100 shelter referrals,
- other community referrals, including where to find relocation funding, emergency shelter, and many other human services resources.