N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--April 1998

Victims Teach Staff Lessons in Sensitivity

RALEIGH - Terry Patrick of Salisbury choked back tears as he explained how he selected clothes from among Christmas gifts in which to bury his son after the teen-ager was murdered by a drunk driver. Carron Suddreth of Lenoir remembered how she and her family slept together on a palette for six months because her niece was scared that her father, who had shot her in the face and killed her mother, would come and hurt her again. April Mial of Raleigh spoke softly, noting that it took her three years to work up the courage to visit her boyfriend's gravesite or to contact his family.

The emotions etched on the faces of Patrick, Suddreth and Mial brought the stories of all crime victims to life for department staff who participated in victim sensitivity and awareness training seminars held at six sites throughout the state in March and April.

The training was designed to help prison and probation/parole staff better understand victims' needs, to improve their skills for dealing with victims' stress and trauma, and to learn how the department can assist victims more effectively. The training was facilitated by Karen Taylor George, victim services coordinator for the N.C. Parole Commission, and other victim advocates.

"Traditionally, correction departments throughout the country have shied away from victim services," George said. "We are comfortable talking with offenders and their families, but dealing with victims makes us uncomfortable. It is hoped this training will be a step in helping department staff recognize that victims and their input is important to us and how we do our jobs."

Specific topics of the day-long seminar included identifying types of victim trauma, learning appropriate language to use with victims, and understanding what role victims can play in the decision-making process.

"What victims are asking for is to be considered in the process," said Janice Fletcher whose brother was murdered. "We know you have a job to do. When you look at a file or deal with an offender, all I ask is that you to think about the victim and the victim's family and what the offender's crime has done to them." u

NC DOC Correction News- April 1998
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