The Detroit Free Press, taking note of the national Crime Victims’ Rights Week, discusses cases that show how victims are treated in the Detroit criminal justice system. The crime victims’ week observance began in 1981 in recognition of the law that ensures that crime survivors receive assistance for funeral costs, housing when necessary, counseling, and medical costs. The law also allows for the victims to be notified of court proceedings, to attend the suspect’s trial, and to confer with the prosecuting attorneys.
Prosecutors’ offices often have victim advocates who provide information on court dates, legal processes, and court proceedings. If the family or victim is fortunate, the perpetrator is arrested and convicted. Conviction marks only the beginning of a long road to mending shattered lives. If people have been affected by a traumatic event, the emotional aspects of the trauma can affect them physically, said Dr. William Steele of the National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children. “It wears you down physically and emotionally; it wears down the immune system. They have to learn to deactivate themselves when something reminds them of what happened. They have to experience the safety they had before the trauma,” Steele said.