In March of 2018, the BCSAO unveiled a new trauma-informed Victim & Witness Services Waiting Room in the Mitchell Courthouse that was renovated to create a more welcoming space for victims and witnesses of crime to receive services and await their appearances in court. The design plans were created by the nonprofit organization Design Angels of America and was executed by the Department of General Services. The renovation included a dedicated play area for children, power-integrated furniture, and a computer allowing visitors to access resources while they await trial.
The new trauma-informed, therapeutic space focuses on the victim's and witness’ sense of worth, security, and empowerment. “The moments leading up to a criminal proceeding for a victim or witness are usually charged—especially if they don’t have extensive experience with the criminal justice system,” explains Arcelia Greene, Deputy Director of Victim and Witness Services. We want[victims and witnesses] to feel comfortable, allow them to focus on the proceedings ahead, or just relax and take their mind off of things until it is time for them to appear in court.”
Renovation of the Victim & Witness Services Waiting Room was a component of transforming the Victim & Witness Services Unit into a leading edge constituent service organization. Since 2015, the Victim & Witness Services Unit has doubled in size and has expanded its capacity to deliver court accompaniment and advocacy services to all felony cases. The BCSAO secured a $2.4M grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 2016 to help fund the expansion of the unit and redesign the new space.