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O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton held several fundraisers for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week this year. Assistant Superintendent Rossi, above, helped two youths get ready to hand out Jamba Juice and pizza. The youths will donate $1,000 to Project Uplift in Modesto, a community/after school-based mentoring and education program for youth with multiple risk factors.

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O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility organized a Stockton Police Department workshop for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to help dispel any stereotypes and bridge the gap between police officers and incarcerated youth. Officer Wright facilitated the discussion with several youths from all units. Casework Specialist Lynden Price helped coordinate the workshop.

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California Medical Facility inmates currently participating in activity groups such as Boys 2 Men, Victim Offender Insight Group, and others, viewed “The Mask You Live In.” The movie follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s definition of masculinity. The video was shown in segments with the assistance of Clinical Psychologist Golinveaux who assisted in breaking down the video, applying it to the audience, and encouraging inmate participation. In her role as staff psychologist, Dr. Golinveaux works to help the men understand the impact of gender roles on their emotions and behavior in order to reduce the cycle of violence and prevent the perpetuation of violent crimes and victimization.

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N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility and O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility observed National Crime Victims Rights Week with a color run and an assembly honoring victims and survivors.

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Ventura Youth Correctional Facility hosted Closing Ceremonies of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the Protestant Garden. Youth read heartfelt poems and letters. A student talked about the painful memory of witnessing his mother being abused, and another bravely shared her story of being a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her father. Youth also presented a check for over $1,500 to The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, which they raised through a massive pizza fundraiser.

Matias Bernal from the RISE (Respect Inspire Support and Empower) spoke about preventing Domestic Violence and discussed how men, women and members of the LGBT Community are abused and through greater awareness and early intervention they are seeking to end Domestic Violence.

Chaplain Matchak led the planting of flowers in remembrance of victims, since the flowers live on like the quest to end Domestic Violence.

Administrator Brown gave closing remarks and thanked everybody for participating. Refreshments were served and a youth focus group was conducted in the Administration Building by Bernal and Sarah Schouten from Interface.

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Victim advocate Rita Edmonds-Norris spoke to CMF inmates regarding the impact of crime on victims and the community. In June 1993, Rita lost her oldest son, Chad, to homicide. Chad would have been 45 years old next month. Rita currently co-facilitates a support group for other victims who have lost a loved one to homicide and works as an advocate for other crime victims.

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Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF) observed National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with a special luncheon Tuesday. After welcoming remarks by VYCF Victims Coordinator Beatrice Driver and a prayer led by Chaplain Matchak, youth listened intently to guest speakers Julia Campos, Agnes Gibboney, Cindy Harbor and Marissa Martinez from Parents of Murdered Children.

The speakers gave heart-wrenching accounts of losing their sons to senseless violence. Martinez emphasized the ripple effect crime has on the community and implored the youth that were present to be better.

“It trickles down,” she said. “Be nice to 19 people and see what happens. My son was 19 years old. You are still young; you still have a chance to grow.”

Cindy Harbor advised the youth to “Think long term,” when contemplating risky behavior. “What is this decision going to cost? It affects you, your family and countless others.”

Gibboney added “I keep a mask on for my two daughters. I’m still trying to find a way to bring back happiness, time does not heal everything.”

The guest speakers also spoke eloquently about the challenge of forgiving those responsible for the untimely death of their loved ones.

One speaker stated, “I forgive him sometimes and sometimes I don’t. I know it’s the right thing but I’m human. God would want me to. It’s a very hard thing to see your son die.” Another added, “Accept that you have made mistakes, you still have the opportunity that was taken from us. You can share Christmas and Thanksgiving. I go to the cemetery to be close to my son. Change your ways, value your life. I love you because I value you. I would like to think others would have thought this way about my son.”

Trifold art chronicling cycles of crime and violence were on display and winners for the most compelling message were announced with C.L.C. placing first place, B.V. second and M.V. third.

Youth were also given an opportunity to ask guest speakers questions about their loss and healing.

Superintendent Maria Harper also attended this event. She provided valuable insight.

“After hearing the speakers I was struck by the complexities of the human being, so capable of achieving extraordinary feats, and having an immense capacity to be kind and compassionate to others. On the other hand, humans can be so cruel and inhumane towards their fellow beings. Frequently I think the destruction of mankind will surely be at the hands of man himself. As one of the guest speakers said today, these are the choices we make every day; to be kind and caring toward others, or to be selfish and destructive. We have a choice whether to make victims. When I was a child my mother used to say to me that the difference between animals and humans is that animal behavior is instinctive. Humans have been given the ability to make choices, to foresee consequences, to distinguish right from wrong. If humans fail to use this God given ability to choose wisely, humanity will face eventual ruin. Today, after our distinguished guests have gone home, we ask the youth to ponder how their choices have affected their victims, their families, and their communities.”

Youth enjoyed a catered lunch, learning from the guest speakers and a stirring song, beautifully sung by Tiffany Bradley. Closing remarks were delivered by Assistant Superintendent Kenny Fewer.

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Staff at California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville garnered inspiration from G-Rod Foundation Founders, CMF Sgt. M. Warren and Mrs. Terry Warren, during a National Crime Victim’s Rights Week event. The two spoke with staff about taking action.

The Warrens suffered the loss of a child out of violence and took action to prevent more senseless crimes from occurring.

The G-Rod Foundation was formed after the death of Gerard Michael Warren, born Dec. 18, 1984, to the parents of Michael and Terrie Warren. Gerard had one brother, Terrance Jamal (TJ). Gerard was shot and later died on Aug. 14, 2005 at the age of 20.

The G-Rod Foundation gives back to the community, providing services to underprivileged children in the form of scholarships for sporting events, tutoring, arts and performances. You can learn more about the G-Rod Foundation here – https://goo.gl/2fXRZQ

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Pleasant Valley State Prison held a moment of silence April 11 at their annual ceremony in honor of victims and survivors for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

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California Correctional Center staff participated in the 5th annual “Walk-A-Mile” event in Susanville in support of victims of child and sexual abuse. The event represents walking in the shoes of victims as they become empowered and move forward on the road from victim to survivor.

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Chuckawalla Valley State Prison hosted the annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week ceremony with Ironwood State Prison. CVSP Warden Callahan dedicated the ceremony to the victims that were affected by the October 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. Correctional Lt. Kelli Madsen of ISP attended the concert in Las Vegas and gave an emotional speech recounting the events of the tragic day.

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The Kings County District Attorney Victim-Witness Assistance Program held a ceremony at Hanford Civic Center April 9 in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. District Attorney Keith L. Fagundes and coordinator Julia Patino led the honors for the annual observance uniting crime survivors, victim advocates, criminal justice professionals and communities all across America. Attendees included Avenal State Prison Warden Rosemary Ndoh, Community Resources Manager Dee Lovette and Lt. Mike Tuntakit.

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National Crime Victims’ Rights Week event at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad began with a moment of silence. The silent witness was also demonstrated and participants explained the ripple effect when it comes to crime. The main focus of the event was Julie Reynolds, a guest speaker (journalist and co-founder of Voices of Monterey Bay) who shared her life story and how she was victimized as a young girl. She explained how once you become a victim it can have a long lasting effect on your life. The closure of the event came when the non-violence pledge was presented. The inmate participants were encouraged to take on the pledge of non-violence and to sign a written commitment to non-violence. CTF continues to update the victim board in the back of the gym, where individuals can write down names, places or events where victims were created.

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Ventura Youth Correctional Facility hosted an opening ceremony for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the quad of Mary B. Perry High School.

After a welcoming speech by Victim Coordinator Beatrice Driver, Chaplain Matchak led a prayer and youth from the Student Council led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Superintendent Maria Soria Harper and Division of Juvenile Justice Assistant Director Heather Bowlds also shared insight during the ceremony. Rachael Watkins from the Crime Victims Assistance Program spoke of the future of victims’ support. Heather Abbott from VOICES Ventura County shared a personal story of how her daughter was victimized by a family member, and how the behavior continued until she acted to stop it. Student Council members each gave her a rose after she spoke.

Ventura County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Jump challenged the youth to seriously think about the men and women they want to be, and encouraged them to utilize the resources and support they have been given.

Tiffany Bradley also sang and played the keyboard alongside student musicians, and youth revealed art projects depicting the cycles of victimization.

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Staff and inmates at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad held a special ceremony in commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. CTF’s inmate Color Guard led the group into a moment of silence. Participants reflected on the impact of crime and the ripple effect it creates in communities. Inmates invited others to take a deeper look at themselves in recognition of that impact. CTF Warden Craig Koenig also received Congressional honors during the ceremony.

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CSP-Solano held a special ceremony featuring guest speakers for staff and inmates in honor of National Crime Victims’ Right Week. Guest speakers included the Avary Project (program for children with incarcerated parents), Matt Garcia Foundation (speaker/victim: Teresa Courtemanche) and The Children’s Network and Nurturing Father’s Program, previously incarcerated father’s giving back to society.

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California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran held special events recognizing NCVRW. Staff was able to raise $4,700 by accepting donations for “Expanding Your Circle” bracelets, a pulled pork sandwich lunch and a silent auction Bake-a-Thon.

“The ladies and gentlemen involved with Victim Services came up with great ideas to promote Crime Victims’ Rights week.  Expanding the circle, reach all victims, and used that to expand the amount of days we did activities by kicking off the week starting on Tuesday with the bracelet sale, Wednesday with the pulled pork sandwich sale and Thursday with a Bake- A-Thon. They have all worked really hard and their enthusiasm was contagious as the money began pouring in to support Crime Victims’ Rights Week.  Victim Services would like to thank all the SATF staff members who donated, you truly have hearts of gold,” said Classification & Parole Representative S. Kane.