To the Editor:

I appreciate the opportunity to talk more on victims' issues and to address misconceptions of what services the Victim Assistance office provides in response to the letter, "The Other Shoe Drops," in the May 23 edition.

The "Empty Shoe" display was set up during Victims' Rights Week to commemorate the victims who walked through the Grant County criminal justice system during the past 12 months. I want to thank the many community members who donated shoes for the poignant display and for all the positive feedback from viewers.

During the past 12 months 280 community members were victimized by criminal acts in Grant County. Each of these incidents were investigated by a trained police officer who found probable cause to refer the incident to the district attorney for possible prosecution. Although not all these cases resulted in criminal convictions, it is fair to say that each of the 280 victims experienced at the very least inconvenience in their lives and many experienced stress, trauma and/or fear.

The Victim Assistance Program is not a financial resource for victims. The purpose of the program is to help make the criminal justice process more manageable for victims.

The Victim Assistance Office staff consists of advocates dedicated to providing individual support throughout the court process. The advocates explain the process, inform and explain victims' rights, provide information and referrals, and provide support to enable victims to make informed decisions and be prepared for the process.

The goal of the Victim Assistance Program is to provide easy access to information to all victims, to provide support and assistance throughout the entire process. It is our hope that we can prevent any additional stress which can sometimes occur in the complicated criminal justice system.

The Victim Assistance Office welcomes questions and we invite anyone who is interested in learning more about our program and services to call either Karen or Teresa at 575-4026.

Karen Johnston

Grant County Director of Victim Assistance

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