Crime Victims' Week - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 04/11/05

Crime Victims' Week

By Davis Brister

It's crime victims' rights week here in Mississippi. And Monday, state officials honored victims and advocates alike for their work in the field.

Nearly everyone in the capitol rotunda Monday had been a victim of a crime. Even state officials like auditor Phil Bryant, attorney general Jim Hood and public safety commissioner Rusty Fortenbury have lost relatives to crimes.

Monday, they presented several Mississippians, many crime victims, for their hard work in lending other crime victims a helping hand.

Barbara Wicker Farley lost a daughter several years ago and is confined to a wheelchair herself after he ex-husband shot the two of them. She was one of the advocates honored with an award. She says, "The biggest thing is the fear because you become so fearful and so withdrawn when that happens to you."  She continues, "Even though it's bad right now, it's gonna get better."

The state is also trying to make it better for victims who don't know the culprit of their crime. Since July, the Department of Investigations, under Fortenbury, had reopened about 50 cold cases.

Fortenberry says, "They wanna know someone is working on the case. We shouldn't forget about those people that have been murdered."

Jim Hood says, "They suffer these problems everyday. So we owe them a duty to go back and pick up where we can and make a case."

Farley says, "The people that these people left behind, the families that had to go through all the trauma. I mean the trauma never ends."

There never really is an ending for a crime victim according to those here. That's why they say ceremonies like this are so important.

And Hood says in coming weeks he's going to make a push for the state crime lab to get more funding. He says that agency is severely underfunded and needs more employees to solve cases.

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