Crime victims have their voices heard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Crime victims have their voices heard

July 17, 2007

Albany--  When it comes to the amount of crime in our country, we certainly have plenty of it. In fact, approximately thirteen million people are victims of crime every year in the US.  In Dougherty County alone almost 300 people are victimized by criminals a month.

This morning crime victims in south Georgia will have an opportunity to speak out against the criminals who victimized them.  The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will take part in Victims Visitor Day here in Albany. It will allow crime victims to discuss their case with board members and get up-to-date information on the offender that wronged them.

From murder to armed robberies--crime seems everywhere.

"Crime is happening every day," says Tonya Abner.

And it's what keeps Tonya Abner busy.  She's a victim advocate for the District Attorney's office in Albany.

"I enjoy helping people. We'll go to court with them, do protective orders for them, and basically try to guide them," she says.

Now she's encouraging those targeted by crime to have their voices heard before the Board of Pardons and Parole.

"That will be an opportunity for victims and their family members to meet with the parole board members and get update on offenders if they choose to. The victims can update their addresses and their information," she says.

Victims and their families get one on one time with board members to discuss their case against their offender.

"The parole board members will also get them linked up on-line, show them how to go on-line and get information so they can track the inmates to find out their status," she says.

Before an offender is released from prison, it's up to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to make that decision.

"The parole board will review their records and determine whether to release them. The impact statements that the victims bring and submit makes a difference," she says.

So far, about 100 people already have appointments with board members this morning. "We have everything from homicides to burglaries, aggravated assaults, sexual assualts," she says.

And Abner encourages of victims of crime who haven't yet to seriously consider doing so. "It makes a difference," she says.

Now if you're interested in meeting with a hearing officer this morning-- there's still time. The event will end at 8 PM and will take place at the Parole Board office on Evelyn Avenue.

Today's event is the fourth stop across the state for the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.