State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates honors National Crime Victims' Rights Week by putting the focus back on survivors and collaborating on next steps
Baltimore, Md. (April 28, 2023) – Today, State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates commemorated National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by hosting a luncheon for victims, survivors, and their families. The luncheon provided an opportunity for the State’s Attorney to hear from victims and survivors of violent crime and begin an honest dialogue on how the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City (SAO) can better serve victims and witnesses.
“For far too long, we have focused on perpetrators of violent crime and the chaos wrought on our communities while losing sight of what actually matters. The focus must be put back on individuals impacted by violent crime, the same individuals my office advocates tirelessly for,” said State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates. “This luncheon began an ongoing conversation with victims and witnesses on how we can effectively help them heal from the trauma they’ve experienced and service their needs in a meaningful and efficient manner.”
The Federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) leads communities nationwide in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) by raising awareness of victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.”
In addition to the luncheon, the SAO has launched a video series entitled Rise Up - Breaking the Silence of Violence, in which the office will amplify the voices of victims of crime by changing the narrative around crime and why effective prosecution of those who inflict pain on often unsuspecting individuals is so critically important. The first episode, “Finding Peace,” focuses on the tragic loss of one former state lawmaker’s son to gun violence in Baltimore. Former Delegate Chanel Branch, who represented the city’s 45th district, along with her father, former Delegate Talmadge Branch, lost her 22-year-old son Tyrone Ray Jr. back in 2017 in the very district they both represented.
During NCVRW 2023 and beyond, the SAO will share information about victims’ rights and resources while underscoring the importance of listening to survivors' voices in every space where decisions are made. The SAO also reaffirms its commitment to holding those who go astray of the law accountable for their actions.
“We have to get back to the cornerstone of law and justice, defending those who have been victims of crime and not those who continue to break the law and perpetuate the cycle of harm,” said State’s Attorney Bates. “The trauma experienced by a single homicide, or a person being raped, beaten, carjacked, or robbed, goes beyond just that individual and that isolated incident. The trauma impacts that family and community, and it can last years, decades, and in many cases a lifetime, sending families spiraling with grief.”