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Jan 03, 2019| News

December 21, 2018 | Rutland Herald
Patrick Mcardle
Rutland, VT

Organizers are looking for the right candidate to lead a new program aimed at helping crime victims get restitution even if no criminal has been identified or charged.

Funded by a federal grant from the Victims of Crime Act, the Voice and Choice for Victims Demonstration Project is looking for a victim liaison to bring the new service to Rutland, according to Lisa Ryan, program manager for the Rutland County Community Justice Center at BROC-Community Action in Southwestern Vermont.

The second and third years for the three-year grant will be for about $48,000. The first year, which started in October instead of the beginning of the fiscal year, will total about $45,000, which includes a local match of about $9,000.

“This position is going to allow us to work solely with victims of all crimes in a way that will really allow them to feel heard and respected and acknowledged,” Ryan said.

As an example, Ryan described someone finding his or her tires slashed.

“There’s no identifiable perpetrator, they just got slashed. How do we work with that individual? Some sort of compensation fund or working with a small business to help repair those tires because what happens is, when we see this, one thing starts and then it trickles down. Now that person (with the slashed tires) may not be able to get to work or take the kids to school. It’s really a domino effect from there,” she said.

The program will accept referrals from the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Rutland City Police Department through memorandums of understanding.

The referrals from the state’s attorney would be people who don’t want to proceed through the criminal prosecution process or people who need support post-conviction.

“We’re not trying to duplicate the services of what the victim advocates are doing at the state’s attorney’s office. We’re trying to take some of the work off them by offering other options,” Ryan said.

The victims’ advocates at the prosecutors office mostly work with victims of domestic and sexual violence.

The police department is likely to refer victims of vandalism or burglary, Ryan said, but she said she hopes Voice and Choice can also help victims of hate crimes and bullying at local schools and colleges.

“We’re really looking to expand and increase the capacity of service delivery and programs to reach a broader spectrum of victims in this region. If we can come together and find a process that works and that’s healing and restores and makes victims and survivors feel heard, then we’re doing our job,” she said.

Because the program is based at BROC, Ryan said she hoped people who are served there would also access other BROC programs.

Voice and Choice was approved by the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, which manages the federal funds, in the summer. The grant request was written by Ryan, guided by BROC’s Community Services Director Elizabeth Eddy, and Ryan said it was her first grant.

With the grant awarded Oct. 1, Ryan said she would like to have Voice and Choice up and running as soon as possible.

However, Ryan said she hasn’t heard from the right applicants. She said she’s looking for someone who has worked in human services and has at least a bachelor’s degree.

Ryan said the right candidate will have empathy and be dedicated to “helping change the lives of victims in our community.”

“We’re really looking for an individual that is really sensitive to the needs of victims. I want it to be a person who’s very dedicated, can talk to people and meet them where they’re at and understand that these are very difficult things to have to deal with,” she said.

Because the position is new, Ryan pointed out the victims rights liaison would have a lot of opportunity to shape the future of the project.

Ryan said she’s hoping to find a creative candidate who can create resources like support circles or peer groups to help victims with emotional recovery as well as the loss of money or possessions.

People interested in the position can reach out to BROC.

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