ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) -National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is held from April 23 through April 29 to bring awareness of the impact of crime. From individuals to communities, the Rotunda of the Albany Court House honored those effected.
Assistant District Attorney, Jennifer McCanney, says when it comes to victims of crimes, it is important to make them feel heard. “We honor victims of crime, celebrate decades of hard earned progress, and renew our commitment to ensuring that all victims have the rights and services they need to recover from crime. The theme this year commits us all to amplify the voices of survivors and create environments where survivors have the confidence they will be heard, believed and supported,” stated McCanney.
Albany County Sheriff, Craig Apple, says part of being heard is having proper systems and outlets for victims to rely on. “We need to place an emphasis on the importance of victim services, and ensure that every crime victim has access to services and support, and improve how professional organizations and communities can work together to reach all victims,” explained Apple.
Family members of victims honor their loved ones by being a voice that would otherwise go unheard. It has been almost ten and a half years since the Stewart family lost their son, Christopher. “Our family continues to struggle, not only with the pain each day, but we contemplate daily all the what ifs of what would Christopher be doing on this particular day,” explained Christopher’s father, Michael Stewart.
Through his pain, Stewart fights for laws to be changed when it comes to victim statements. Named Christopher’s and Deanna’s Law, when an offender comes up for parole, the victim’s family will have their testimony videotaped instead of reading a transcript. “That videotape will be sent to the actual parole commissioners that are going to be making the decision on that case,” said Stewart. After the ceremony, family members were asked to write the names of their loved ones on memorial flags that were placed at the Academy Park memorial.