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Multi-Agency Event Seeks to Support Victims, Build Trust, Engage Communities during Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Published April 7, 2021, Updated April 13, 2021

By Rachel Friederich Communications Office
Governor Jay Inslee signing a bill on a table surrounded by a crowd

In 2013, Gov. Inslee (center) signs the Jennifer Paulson Stalking Protection Order Act into law at Birney Elementary school in Tacoma. Jennifer was killed by a stalker there in 2010. (Photo Courtesy Legislative Support Services)

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TUMWATER – Ken Paulson never imagined he would become an advocate for crime victims.

But that’s exactly the role he found himself in after his daughter, Jennifer, was killed by a man who had stalked her for years. Despite having an anti-harassment order against her stalker, the man violated the order and was out on bail when he killed Jennifer.

After his daughter’s murder in 2010, Paulson worked with legislators to create what is now the Jennifer Paulson Stalking Protection Order Act, which orders stalkers to stay away from their victims. At the time of Jennifer’s death, the state only granted protection orders to victims of domestic violence.

“People don’t think about it or understand this until it happens to you,” Paulson told The Olympian in 2013, the year the act became part of Washington state law. Paulson believes his daughter would still be alive, had an anti-stalking law been in place in 2010.

Paulson will share his daughter’s story and how advocacy for victims can save lives during a state virtual presentation of a virtual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week event. It takes place at 10:00 a.m. April 22, 2021 on Zoom. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’s Crime Victims Compensation Program, Corrections, and Commerce’s Office of Crime Victim Advocacy with the support of the federal Department of Justice (DOJ), are co-hosting the event. The public will also be able to view a recording of the event afterwards on L&I’s YouTube channel.

Crime Victims Rights Week is observed nationally in April. Each year the DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime leads communities across the country to acknowledge achievements in victim services and allied professions, honor those who go above and beyond in their service to others and remember crime victims and survivors. This year’s theme is Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities.

Victim advocates say the work of victim service providers is increasingly important in light of a growing number of proposed laws aimed at shortening prison sentences.

While supporters of these bills agree that excessive confinement can be detrimental to rehabilitation, concern exists for victims who worry about perpetrators releasing from prison earlier than expected.

With this in mind, there is an important bill that the Department of Corrections introduced into the legislature to support victim services, SB 5245.

This bill if enacted into law would expand the classes of offenses that would qualify for notification of release.

Agency Victim Services

Each state agency co-hosting the event has programs dedicated to helping crime victims.

Labor & Industries runs the Crime Victims Compensation Program. In 1973, the state Legislature passed the Crime Victim Compensation Act as part of the Department of Labor & Industries. This action made Washington state the ninth state in the country to have a crime Victim Compensation program. Since its inception, the program has provided relief to victims of violent crimes by paying for medical, counseling and dental benefits, funeral and burial benefits, wage loss replacement and sexual assault examination costs.

“I have great respect for the courage victims of violent crime show by coming forward to receive help. Help that would enable them transition from being victims to being survivors,” said Cletus Nnanabu, program manager for Labor & Industries’s Crime Victims Compensation Program. “We know that no amount of money can erase the horror and pain a victim may face as a result, of a violent crime committed against them. We can only hope that our effort in the program can contribute, in a small way, to their recovery and easing some of the financial burden they and their family may face.”

Corrections’ Victim Services unit offers programs such as victim wrap-arounds, which are safety-planning meetings crime victims can request with correctional staff when their perpetrator’s prison sentences are coming to an end. Victim Services runs a notification program that can provide victims information about when their perpetrators transfer to work release, escape from custody, release to the community or move to another jurisdiction, or pass away while in custody. Department of Corrections Victim Services also has restorative justice programs including victim-offender dialogue meetings and an accountability letter bank in which individuals convicted of a crime can write apology letters.

The Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) connects victims to local services and resources, administers grant funds for community programs that work with crime victims and helps communities implement those programs and services. The OCVA also advises state and local governments about polices, practices and priorities that impact crime victims.

“It is important to acknowledge all of the amazing work advocates do in their communities to assist those impacted by crime and violence, particularly during the pandemic,” said Rick Torrance, Managing Director for the Washington Department of Commerce OCVA. “This event is also a great opportunity to promote the rights of crime victims. Commerce is grateful to work with other agencies to host this important event.”

Awards and More

Lewallen will also be presenting the first ever Nancy Hawley Lifetime Service Award. Hawley’s family will be recipients of the award, which is meant for individuals who go above and beyond in victim advocacy.

Hawley was one of the first community victim liaisons the department of corrections hired after launching its Victim Services unit in 1983. Washington’s Department of Corrections was the first correctional system in the country to have a comprehensive victim services program.

Hawley began her career in Everett, first working with pregnant teenagers at an organization aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect, and then shifting her focus to helping adult victims of sexual assault. While working at Providence Sexual Assault Center, she provided victim impact curriculum services to sex offenders at the Monroe Correctional Complex. She left her community victim liaison position at the agency in 2008. Hawley became the director of the non-profit Victim Support Services in Everett, a position she had for seven years, before becoming a director of mental health services at a company in Marysville. She also provided emergency crisis response, working with survivors of the Oso landslide in 2014 and the shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

Other speakers at the event will include Jeri Moomaw and Mac Pevey, Corrections’ assistant secretary of its community corrections division.

Moomaw is the founder and executive director of Olympia-based Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative. For 16 years, Moomaw has worked in Tribal communities with trafficking survivors, developing and overseeing prevention and intervention programs and creating curricula and training modules focusing on combating commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking and gender-based violence. In 2016, the Department of Justice recognized her for her work to improve the lives of survivors of human trafficking.

Pevey will give opening remarks and speak about the roles and impact of victim service providers.

“Crime Victims Rights Week reminds us of our collaborative duty and responsibility to support individuals who are left to deal with the traumatic reality by those who commit crimes,” Pevey said. “Victim service programs, no matter how big or small, are absolutely vital in support of achieving emotional and place security for those who have been harmed. This week, we honor our victims and embrace their needs to improve their safety as well as that of our communities.”

Anyone who needs special accommodations, please contact Kaylie Daly or Donette Racoma with Labor & Industries’s Crime Victims Compensation Program by email or 1-800-762-3716, 360-902-5355.