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MADD Michigan marks Victims Rights Week, details services

EDITOR:

For more than 40 years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been working towards improving services to crime victims.

MADD Michigan is dedicated to supporting victims, building trust, and engaging communities to help empower victims of impaired driving crashes. Victims of both drunk and drugged driving crashes have constitutional rights that can be found in our Michigan State Constitution, Article 1, section 24.

MADD Michigan’s victim service team works hard all year to provide services to victims of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Each year in April, we take a week to provide extra community awareness by celebrating the progress that has been made in securing rights, protections, and services for victims of crimes. In 2021, the National Crime Victim Rights Week is this week. The theme is “Support Victims, Build Trust, Engage Communities.”

Throughout the year, MADD victim service specialists team up with local prosecutors, law enforcement, and other victim service agencies to participate in coalitions. During the meetings, agencies share information and try to work together to ensure crime victims are being treated fairly and with dignity as required by our Constitution.

MADD Michigan has four regional full-time victim service specialists who are specially trained and experienced. I, Betsy Harris, am the victim service specialist for Northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.

A victim service specialist can provide support with the criminal justice process, the financial recovery process, emotional support and information — in person, online and by phone — to assist with Crime Victim Compensation forms, referrals to counselors and civil attorneys and more.

I also help inform and direct victims to different community services that would help the victims gain empowerment after experiencing a traumatic crash involving drugs or alcohol.

Nationally, MADD victim services has served almost 1 million victims since it began.

The MADD Michigan team has explored new, creative ways to help support and empower victims during the pandemic. Grief and injury support groups have become available via Zoom to meet with victims around the state who would otherwise feel isolated.

In 2019, 6,449 people were injured and 419 people killed in alcohol/ drugged driving crashes in Michigan (2019 Michigan State Police Drunk Driving Audit) In 2020, Michigan had 1,016 deaths due to impaired driving.

For the past 22 years, I have worked as an advocate, helping to move us forward to a day when there will be “no more victims.” When my phone rings, I know there has been another crash that impacted another family. I look forward to a day when we can silence this phone.

If you would like to talk with a victim service specialist, confidential support is available at no charge. Please call 906-474-9346 for more information.

Betsy Harris

Rapid River

betsy.harris@madd.org

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