Crime victims urged probation and parole officials today to pay more attention to their cases and issues. The unusual appeal came near the conclusion of the 35th annual American Probation and Parole Association training institute, held this year in Washington, D.C. Andrea Conte, wife of Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, said that crime victims sometimes have viewed probation and parole agents as enemies, more sympathetic to offenders than to victims; she urged more attention to issues like restitution by offenders to their victims. Conte founded an anticrime group called You Have the Power–Know How to Use It. She was the victim of a pistol-whipping by a would-be kidnapper 20 years ago. Susan Russell, a vicim services consultant in Vermont who was kidnapped, raped, and nearly killed 18 years ago, complained that the state had given her misleading and inaccurate information about the offender.
Pat Tuthill, whose daughter Peyton was raped, tortured, and murdered by a probationer who transferred from another state to Denver in 1999, made a plea for victims and their families to get more information about convicts’ whereabouts and status. “Offenders have many rights, victims have few,” she told the meeting. Victims advocates acknowledge that most offenders eventually will be released from custody or supervision; the victims ask that they be notified every important step along the way, including about the conduct and treatment of offenders who are in prison. The general theme of the program was that victims are getting more respect in the criminal justice system, but there is a long way to go. Other victim advocates who spoke included Mary Dodd of Nevada, Rick Fiori of Maryland, Elizabeth Page of Texas, and Carroll Ann Ellis of Virginia. Listening were senior officials of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs. Moderator was Anne Seymour of Justice Solutions in Washington, D.C.