Prime Time Crime

 

(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Sept. 21, 2009)

 

Victims take another hit

   

  By John Martin

 

Over the past decade I have spent a considerable amount of time writing and speaking about the plight of victims of violent crime and the need for the criminal justice system to be more responsive to victims and their families. A scattering of pundits, citizen groups and politicians have similarly made victimsí rights a priority in their day to day doings. My sense though, is little has changed in the past ten years. For the most part, victims of crime just simply are not on the legislative agenda or public radar.

This observation was driven home this past week with the sad announcement that the Canada Resource Centre for Victims of Crime (CRCVC) has lost its funding and will shut down at the end of the year. The announcement is an enormous loss. There has been no greater advocate for victims and survivors of violent crime anywhere in the country. Since 1993 the CRCVC has delivered valuable services to victims including helping them deal with the various stages of the criminal justice process, offering emotional support, and assisting them in accessing resources to help cope with their pain and loss.

One would think the demise of such a selfless and critical service would be met with some level of reaction and concern. Yet I am unable to identify a single media outlet that reported the story. Not that thereís been any shortage of commentary and outrage over other program cuts. It seems every cancelled grant for some childrenís clown act, drum circle or self-proclaimed "nouveau artist" who makes sculptures out of pig guts made the news. "Heartless, cruel, short-sighted, and tragic" were just some of the accusations thrown about as cash-strapped governments at every level slashed art and cultural programs.

Stephen Harper likely lost his chance for a majority last year when his partyís funding of the arts became a major election issue in Quebec. The backlash against Gordon Campbellís arts cuts was so fierce his government had to back down and partially restore funding even as the number of hospital beds was being reduced.

But here I sit at the computer trying to locate a single media reference to the CRCVC losing its funding and Iím completely stumped. Surely one of the scarce resources that offers support and assistance to victims and families during the hardest time of their lives warrants at least as much attention as an experimental dance troupe that now has to pay for their own practice space. Apparently not.

Those of us who have never been seriously victimized cannot begin to fathom the grief and hurt that endures for a lifetime. The mental, physical and emotional suffering that victims and their families experience cannot be aptly described or conveyed in words.

The loss of the CRCVC is nothing short of devastating.

The silence accompanying this tragedy; even more so.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at John.Martin@ucfv.ca

 

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009