VOCAL offers crime victims support
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
Victims of Crime and Leniency is a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for victims of crime.
Those in the group have lost a family member to violence. Many of the members lost family to murders, according to chapter President Mitzie Wheat.
The nonprofit was created to improve the quality of justice for victims of crime. VOCAL members attend parole hearings and court proceedings to accompany family members and explain the legal process.
VOCAL offers a bimonthly group session for victims to meet together to find commonality.
“I have always felt that it is important for someone to speak on behalf of those victims who no longer have a voice. It is necessary that someone seek justice on their behalf,” Wheat said. “We also watch the legislative process closely to try to make sure that victims’ rights are protected. We have attended and spoke out at legislative hearings on issues related to victims’ rights.”
Wheat, the Calera Police Department’s victims’ service officer, said she holds victim rights classes at police departments through VOCAL. The nonprofit also supports legislation that promotes victims’ rights.
VOCAL was founded in 1982, and the Shelby County chapter began about 10 years later, Wheat said.
During Victim Rights Week, which is April 21-27, 2013, VOCAL will place white crosses with victims’ names and the date they died, as well as a photo, in downtown Columbiana.
“I want people to know the organization exists and they can call if they need counseling or accompaniment to meetings with the district attorney,” Wheat said.
The next VOCAL meeting will be Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. at Owen’s House, which is located at 22747 Old Highway 25 in Columbiana.
For more information, call Wheat at 668-0636 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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