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Remarks of Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon at the National Crime Victims' Service Awards Ceremony, Washington, DC

Thank you so much, Kris [Rose]. I am very pleased to join you and your amazing team as we honor these eight exceptional award recipients, and as we recognize the tireless work being done by victim service professionals across the country.

I want to echo our thanks to the National Park Service for the coordination it took to secure this space that is worthy of those we are honoring today. And I am grateful to our guests from the Postal Inspection Service for taking the time to be here today, and for their ongoing partnership on behalf of crime victims throughout America.

I am especially thankful to Kris for her outstanding leadership and friendship, and to the talented and hard-working staff of our Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). Their commitment to crime victims and those who serve them shines brightly during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, but it is a constant source of light throughout the year. We are so fortunate to have these champions at the Department of Justice. And I especially want to recognize the powerful and beautiful vigil they held last night. Thank you, Team OVC!

They are, of course, inspired by the thousands of professionals throughout the nation who work in local and tribal victim service organizations, in state victim assistance and compensation programs, and in police departments, prosecutors’ offices, and hospitals, delivering critical assistance and support to crime victims and survivors. These dedicated professionals – so many of them joining us today – motivate us in countless ways to do what we do at the Department of Justice. Even more, they inspire in us a hope for a better world.

This is why we gather each year in April – to celebrate and to commemorate, but also to re-commit to becoming a more just nation, one that lives up to its promises of fair treatment and equal justice, and one where the dignity and worth of every person is honored and respected. These principles are embodied in victim-serving professionals, and we are richer for your example.

But we know that even heroes need support. Everyone can make a difference, but the difference is greater when everyone plays a part.

Kris spoke last night about this year’s theme for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – “How Would You Help? Options, Services, and Hope for Crime Survivors.” I can’t help but hear in that theme echoes of Dr. King’s famous line, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” At the Office of Justice Programs, we ask ourselves that very question at every turn. And we follow it with another question: What more can we do?

I’m proud, first of all, of what we have done. Under Kris’s leadership, OVC has funded thousands of local and tribal victim assistance programs that have reached countless victims and survivors. Last year alone:

  • Nearly 900,000 children and youth, and more than 300,000 victims aged 60 or older, received services for the first time.
  • Over 100,000 victims who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual received services and support.
  • More than 7,500 survivors of human trafficking were served every quarter, over a third of them seeking services for the first time.
  • Half-a-million victims of sexual assault and domestic violence received services each quarter.
  • And in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, more than 50,000 victims were served by 270 different tribal organizations funded by OVC.

This is a snapshot of the long reach of OVC-funded services – services that were provided by committed, compassionate professionals in every corner of our country.

Let us not forget that our ultimate goal – our North Star – is to prevent victimization altogether, to spare people the pain and trauma in the first place.

But until then, we are committed to expanding our collective reach because the need for services remains so great. Too many victims still don’t know where to turn for help. Too many are still left to shoulder the burden of trauma alone. Too many still feel that their voices don’t matter. We are slowly closing long-standing gaps in our support for crime survivors, but there is still so much more to do.

We know that well-funded, well-staffed victim service programs are essential to healing and empowerment, but I believe that our goal of reaching every crime victim demands an even broader commitment, from every sector of the community.

The complex challenges faced by crime victims have too often, and too conveniently, been left to our criminal justice system to resolve. We know that not all survivors of crime are looking for justice inside a courtroom. And I think we would all agree that issues around justice, healing, and the support and well-being of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, are matters in which every part of the community has a stake.

This goes for public safety as a whole. No one sector, no single set of institutions, should be expected to answer for the health and safety of a community. At OJP, we are working to help build strong community infrastructure capable of interrupting cycles of victimization, trauma, and harm.

We are increasing our investments in community-based organizations as a complement to our work with criminal justice agencies. We are expanding the network of community actors working to intervene in and respond to crime and violence. And we are leaning on and supporting experts who have the closest ties to members of their communities.

This is all part of our mission to advance community safety, to build community trust, and to strengthen the community’s role as co-producer of safety and justice.

Our Office for Victims of Crime is leading the way. Through their National Center for Culturally Responsive Victim Services, they’re building the capacity of organizations that serve victims in historically marginalized and underserved communities. Through the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention and the Advancing Hospital-Based Victim Services program, OVC is helping to bring to scale a system of services where survivors of gun and serious violence can get treatment and support, in addition to urgent medical care. And through the hate crime victim assistance program and their new Trauma Recovery Center initiative, OVC is modeling an intermediary funding approach to supporting community-based programs that allows us to reach small organizations that might otherwise have difficulty accessing federal grants directly.

OVC is also consulting the experience and perspectives of survivors themselves. Across the Office of Justice Programs, we are making a concerted effort to listen to the voices of people with lived experience – people who have confronted gun violence, young people who have suffered trauma, people who have been through the justice system and emerged with wisdom and insights that they are using to benefit others.

No one brings greater clarity to the challenges of community safety than someone who has suffered the experience of victimization, and no one is in a better position to offer solutions. We need the voices of survivors to center our work, to drive change that serves the interests of all victims.

We will continue to listen. We will continue to learn. And we will continue to support the tireless and essential work that so many of you are doing, every day, in your communities.

We are grateful for your service, and we are proud to be your partners. Congratulations to our award recipients, and thank you all for everything you do.


Date Published: April 25, 2024