Survivor reminds: ‘There is always light’ at CDCR’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week event

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Story by Ike Dodson, CDCR PIO
Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR Staff Photographer

Victoria Hurd isn’t afraid of the dark.

The Fairfield native, emboldened by her remarkable path to recovery from trauma, has become a champion for the crime victim and survivor community.

Speaking passionately from a lectern at Fremont Park during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) on April 4, Hurd confronted the details of the horrific 2013 double-murder of her parents as they lay sleeping in their Davis home.

Still absorbing the impact of that tragic night, a throng of victims, advocates and CDCR representatives listened as Hurd illuminated the outlook that has inspired her journey to healing.

“Everybody will face tragedy in their life at some point or another, some darker than others,” Hurd proclaimed. “This is the thing that tragedy has taught me — you can go through it, you can go around it, you can go above it, you can crawl underneath it — but no matter which way you choose to go, there is always light there for you to seek and find.

“I have been victimized, but I am not alone, there are people and there are resources here to help me. I have all the resources I need to move forward, so it’s my choice to heal or to not. I must own my journey.”

Hurd spoke after a warm introduction by CDCR Chief of Office of Victims and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) Nolice Edwards, a committed speech by CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan and presentation of special recognition certificates by OVSRS Assistant Chief Katie James.

“CDCR is pleased to acknowledge the journey and courage of crime victims and survivors, including the efforts of individuals who advocate on their behalf,” Kernan said. “Individuals impacted by crime face the overwhelming task of rebuilding and healing from loss while navigating the criminal justice system.”

Participants listened to the remarks during the special ceremony and learned about 14 victim advocacy groups that hosted tables at Fremont Park.

Represented were the Crime Victims Assistance Network Foundation, Crime Victims United of California, Attorney General’s Department of Justice, Victim Services Unit, Cal-DNA Data Bank Outreach Program, Parents of Murdered Children, Victims of Crime Resource Center, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, California Victim Compensation Program, Safe at Home Program, Sacramento County Victim/Witness Assistance Center, My Sister’s House, WEAVE, Yolo County Victim/Witness Assistance Center, California State Sheriff’s Association and La Familia Counseling Center.

Along with CDCR staff, the advocates were empowered by Secretary Kernan’s encouraging words.

“Continue to be a strong voice to ensure that the concerns, issues and priorities of the victim and survivor community remain at the forefront of our policies implemented within CDCR,” Kernan added. “We will continue to do our part in raising awareness of victims’ rights and services, highlighting local programs, celebrating progress that we can achieve together, honoring victims, survivors and professionals who serve them.”

Those professionals were lauded by James, who presented special certificates to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office of Victim Services, California Franchise Tax Board ordered debt program, Ahmanal Dorsey of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Victim Witness Office, Christine Ward of the Crime Victims’ Assistance Network (iCAN), Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) Commissioner Arthur Anderson and former CDCR pioneers of victim services, Perfidia Aranjuez and Marcella Aldama.

Edwards also praised the individuals making an impact for victims and survivors at CDCR today.

“I would like to thank Secretary Kernan, Undersecretary Ralph Diaz and all of our CDCR executives for your leadership and support of our event today, past events and events to come,” Edwards said. “My office truly appreciates all the support that we get from this department.

“Thank you to our victims’ services and law enforcement partners here today and throughout California who worked together to ensure victims have access and receive the services they so vitally need and are entitled to.”

The entire OVSRS team played a big role in commemorating NCVRW and honoring this year’s theme, “Strength, Resilience, Justice.”

“My team is on the front lines assisting victims with communication to understand and navigate our department, providing services and assistance through the Board of Parole Hearings process as well,” Edwards said proudly. “They are here with compassion, understanding and dedication, not because it’s their job, but because this is who they are.

“Let’s each take a second to breathe deeply and reflect on your blessings, think of your family, think of your friends and step back and smile from within — especially those in the survivor community know that you are strong — that we at CDCR are strong for you and we will continue to fight and seek justice on your behalf.”

It’s why victims need not fear the dark.

To learn more about CDCR’s OVSRS and the justice practices in place to ensure crime victims and survivors are afforded the utmost respect in exercising their legal rights, visit www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/.

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