LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky State Police, along with Governor Matt Bevin and justice officials, announced a new initiative Thursday to help victims of crimes.
Sixteen victim advocates, one for each KSP post, will be hired by the end of October. They’ll be a point of contact for victims throughout the process.
“When we understand the correlation between good, successful prosecution and holding offenders accountable and our treatment of victims, this is going to change the way the entire system runs,” said Katharine Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.
State and national justice leaders were at KSP Elizabethtown to announce the new victim assistance program.
The victim advocates will connect victims with resources and serve as a liaison between them and law enforcement.
“We owe it to victims not only to be respectful, not only to give them dignity as was noted, but frankly to expeditiously and effectively see that justice is done,” said Gov. Matt Bevin.
Ali Parham is KSP’s Justice Program Administrator. She’ll lead the program.
“When a trooper goes on to scenes they don’t often have the time that they would like to dedicate to the victims so this is a very exciting time for us because we finally feel like we can fill the void that we’ve had,” Parham said.
Terry Jackson is the senior advocate for Silverleaf Services, a rape crisis and child advocacy center.
“I’ve been in courtrooms where its only me and two other people and over on the other side there’s a lot of people. But, we need to fill that courtroom with more people, the more resources the better,” said Jackson.
In Hardin County, Jackson is among the local advocates who meet with police and prosecutors weekly to discuss physical and sexual abuse cases.
“Law enforcement has a high case load and I understand that, and I still have to try and provide those services and try to get them the information that they need,” Jackson said. “I’m feeling like the advocacy position that KSP is going to have, its going to be another resource there that’s going to benefit them.”
To fund the program, $2.5 million will come from the federal government and the state has committed over $600,000 from the budget
“It’s going to encourage more people to come forward, more people to be willing to be in the spotlight because its brutal, the criminal process, the criminal process of prosecution shouldn’t penalize the victim twice,” said Bevin. “Often times it feels as though that’s the case and by some measure its unfortunately a necessity in order to get to the final solution.”
They’re still in the process of hiring right now, but plan to have all 16 victim advocates hired by the end of October.