Department of Justice Recognizes Middle District of Tennessee U.S. Attorney's Office With Financial Restoration Award
WASHINGTON – The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, presented the team from the Asset Forfeiture Unit and Financial Litigation Program in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee with the Crime Victim’s Financial Restoration Award. This award category recognizes individuals, programs, organizations or teams that have developed innovative ways of funding services for crime victims or have instituted innovative approaches for securing financial restoration for crime victims.
The award was accepted by U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Asset Forfeiture/Financial Litigation Coordinator Debra Teufel Phillips, and Financial Litigation Attorney James Matthew Blackburn.
“A victim’s path toward recovery can be eased by the restoration of financial losses, which in some cases can be the very source of that victim’s trauma,” said Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of OJP. “These diligent and dedicated professionals have recovered millions of dollars for victims in the Middle District of Tennessee and helped countless people find an avenue to justice and healing.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit and Financial Litigation Program work through a combination of diligent financial collection and proactive victim education to help victims recoup monetary losses. While traditional financial recovery involves post-conviction collection, the Middle District of Tennessee team collaborates with the U.S. Probation Office to establish relationships with defendants during and after supervised release, ensuring that victims receive payments regularly and continuously.
The team also works with the office’s criminal prosecutors before an indictment is returned so that they can identify, locate and obtain defendants’ ill-gotten gains before they can be spent, hidden or distributed. They enroll almost every criminal debtor into the Treasury Offset Program so that any federal money received goes directly to the victims. They also work hand-in-hand with the District’s Victim-Witness Coordinator to educate victims about restitution and their rights as crime victims. From fiscal year 2018 through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2021, the team collected more than $3 million and distributed these funds to victims of crime through restoration and restitution payments.
“Not only do crime victims endure the often physical and emotional impact of crime, but they also can suffer financially, and these monetary losses may leave them significantly disadvantaged when facing the many other challenges of recovery,” said Kristina Rose, Director of OVC. “We are grateful to this outstanding team for going to such extraordinary lengths to fulfill the promise of justice and healing for victims in their district.”
Every April, OVC leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald W. Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance is taking place April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.