BUCYRUS — Victims of crime need a voice. In Ohio, their voice can be heard through their victim advocate.
In Crawford County, if a person is the victim of a felony, Jim Scott would be the victim advocate. For misdemeanors, Maggie Maloy is the advocate.
Scott and Maloy, along with several others, attended a training session Tuesday morning presented by Thomas King of the Office of Victim Services of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. King is the victim advocate who oversees felony cases offenders ae incarcerated.
“As advocates, it is our job to stay calm and listen to what the victims of crime have to say about their situation,” he said.
The office works to make a positive difference in the lives of crime victims by affording them meaningful participation in correction program.
“When an offender is going to be released, we make three attempts to locate the victims to notify them,” said King.
Notifications include the release date of the offender, the death of the offender, the escape and apprehension of an offender, upcoming parole hearings, and the status of death penalty cases including execution dates or clemency.
“Victims are also notified if the offender is released to a half-way house,” King said.
King stressed that victims of crime should register through the state’s system and keep their information updated so they can easily be contacted when an offender is going to be released or has escaped from prison.
“All information released by the victim to us is kept completely confidential,” King said.
King noted that there is a one-time opportunity for victim-offender dialogue if the victim agrees to it.
“A safe environment is created for the victims while they talk with the offender and ask them questions about the crime,” King said.
King said his office keeps a registry of letters from offenders that the victims can opt to access as long as the letter is not harmful or threatening.
“They can read a letter from the offender if they choose to,” King said.
Maloy, a survivor of a violent crime, said King’s office ishelpful in navigating the process of testifying before the parole board. Bucyrus Police Chief Dave Koepke also attended the training session and wanted to know how many inmates are currently incarcerated in Ohio.
“Currently, there are about 50,000 inmates in the state and 30,000 people on supervision,” King said.