Missouri’s elected officials over recent years should be proud of the progress they’ve made in addressing the needs of crime victims.
This week is Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which highlights advancements for crime victims in the state and calls attention to their continuing needs.
“In Missouri, we continue to strive to improve how our criminal justice system treats and supports crime victims,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a story we published recently. “In the last year, Missouri has made it easier for crime victims to get assistance from our Crime Victims’ Compensation Program. We’re also working to ensure that sexual assault kits are recorded and tested in a timely manner.”
Just in the past year, the state took several positive steps for crime victims:
• A state law took effect last August that mandated sweeping changes to Missouri’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, including eliminating requirements that crimes be reported within 48 hours, that compensation payments end after three years, that counseling expenses be limited to $2,500, and that applications had to be notarized.
• In October, Missouri was awarded a $2.8 million U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant to inventory, track and test a backlog of more than 5,000 untested sexual assault kits. Attorney General Eric Schmitt has named Judge Keithley Williams and a multi-discipline team to lead the effort.
· In October, Parson signed House Bill 2 into law, which allows Missouri jurisdictions without treatment courts to transfer defendants to jurisdictions that have them. Parson said the expansion would be a more effective alternative than prison for defendants in need of treatment and reduce recidivism.
This year’s theme is “Honoring out Past. Creating Hope for the Future.”
We hope state officials keep looking to the future — not only for ways to continue helping crime victims, but ways to prevent the crimes in the first place.