Officials speak up for rights of victims

By Michelle Seeber

The United States records an average of two murders, 58 robberies and 103 abusive acts against children every hour, law-enforcement officers told a group of Portales-area residents on Monday.
That’s one reason this has been declared National Crime Victims Week.
“When one person is victimized, we have to remember it affects all of us, and we need to help them heal,” Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said. “The quicker they heal, the quicker we can put our community back together again.”
District Attorney Brett Carter said almost all rights are geared toward the protection of criminal defendant said. Therefore, tax dollars are paying for the representation of perpetrators if they don’t have an attorney.
In addition, he said, “While they’re incarcerated, our tax dollars are being used to give these people three meals a day. They can go to college in prison. They can receive counseling. We would like to see those same types of resources dedicated to our victims of crime.”
Carter cited an example of a crime victim’s ordeal.
“Let’s say you have a child who has been sexually abused,” Carter said. “That child goes to the hospital for an examination. Within a few weeks, the parents are going to get a bill for the visit. If they need counseling or the child needs counseling, they get a bill for that. Then if they take that child to testify, the parents have to take time off from work.”
While the perpertrator is in jail, the child is still suffering, he said.
“For violent crimes in the state of New Mexico,” Carter said, “we do now have a program where these victims can apply to have some of their bills paid through a statewide fund.
“Contact our office (if you’re a victim), and one of the victims advocates will fill out the paper work to see if some of the costs can be reimbursed. We also have representatives with the New Mexico State Police, the Portales Police Department, the Eastern New Mexico Police Department, a representative of Mental Health Resources, as well as the sheriff’s office.”