One of the remaining avenues for crime victims to have a voice within the courts is through victim impact statements. Victim impact statements are usually read after trial and during the sentencing phase as a way to get into the record the impact of the crime on the victims, their friends and families.
Both women have used their skills and experience to step into the gap for victims of crime through their advocacy and legislative positions. Realizing that crime victims often are in trauma, even years after the crime, they use their understanding of the justice system to pave a smoother path.
Host, Donna Gore, offers her personal knowledge of the subject as well as bringing something new to the table, a Victim Impact Assistance Service where crime victims can take advantage of her vast talent at a time when their lives are in chaos.
Using her position as the District Attorney of Alameda County, California, Nancy O’Malley has been instrumental in passing legislation to advance the rights of crime victims in her state.
Much of her work is centered around Orders of Restitution against criminals, improving the backlog of rape kit testing, and establishing one of the country’s first human trafficking prosecution units. H.E.A.T. Watch (H.E.A.T. is Human Exploitation And Trafficking) is the initiative to develop an effective comprehensive, collaborative, and regional response to human trafficking of all forms; to provide tools, education, and community engagement to change societal, legal, and institutional approaches; and to support victims and hold their offenders accountable.
As the District Attorney for Alameda County, California, Nancy O’Malley gives much more than lip service to the issues facing citizens across the country. Within the criminal justice system in California she has diligently worked on several fronts to enhance the rights of victims of crime.
Although many legislative actions have made changes in favor of offenders, O’Malley is the nationally recognized expert for advancing rights of crime victims in her state, and recently wrote two statutes, worked on a third, that are now laws in California. Each of them articulate the dignity, and respect victims of crime are to be given in the criminal justice system.
Attorney Michelle S. Cruz
Attorney Michelle Cruz has over twenty years experience working with crime victims in a myriad of diverse roles. In November of 2007, Governor M. Jodi Rell appointed her as Connecticut’s 2nd State Victim Advocate to head the Office of the Victim Advocate, an independent crime victims’ rights agency. Attorney Cruz diligently fought against the early release program in CT which led to the release of 7,589 violent offenders, including Frankie Resto who murdered Ibrahim Ghazal only few months after being released early.
She has argued numerous motions on behalf of CT crime victims, including a successful argument that allowed Dr. William Petit, the surviving family member of the Cheshire ,CT triple homicide, to attend the entire capital felony murder trial. She was also successful in advocating for the creation of a State Missing Persons Unit within the CT’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
After law school she served as an Assistant District Attorney in Massachusetts and was assigned to both District and Superior Courts. She specialized in the prosecution of offenders charged with child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence and handled these complex cases from investigation through grand jury indictment and trial. While in Superior Court, she successfully convicted a sex offender for indecent assault and battery for a kiss of a minor child through introducing evidence of the offender’s grooming of the victim to establish his ill intent.
After leaving the OVA, Attorney Cruz opened a private law practice in serving clients in MA and CT.