By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
On Wednesday, October 19, the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Association will host Elizabeth Smart at an event to commemorate 35 years of crime victims’ rights.
To recognize over three decades of Victim’s Rights the event, titled “Engaging your Community. Envisioning the Future” will be held at the Will Rogers Theatre, 4322 N. Western Avenue, in Oklahoma City from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
On October 19, 1981, Oklahoma District Attorneys, led by then Muskogee County District Attorney Mike Turpen, created the Oklahoma’s Victim’s Bill of Rights and Crime Victims Compensation Program. This proposal ensured crime victims are notified of their rights to be heard, to attend hearings, to present statements, and other areas.
“I saw police officers step over the body of a victim to be sure they appropriately read the rights to the suspect,” Turpen said. “Protecting the rights of suspects, while critical, superseded the treatment of the victims.”
The Oklahoma District Attorneys Association in conjunction with private donors is presenting the half day event.
“In 1981, the crime victims compensation program assisted families of 14 homicides, 2 rapes, 1 robbery and 9 assaults. Last year alone, the program assisted families of 549 homicides. 752 other crimes, including assault, sexual assault, child abuse and domestic abuse were awarded. That’s progress we are proud of.” said Mike Fields, District Attorney for Garfield, Blaine, Canadian, Grant and Kingfisher counties.
Elizabeth Smart will keynote the event. Her experience was one of the most followed child abduction cases of recent times. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. The police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003 after being held prisoner for 9 months.
Today, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and National legislation. She bravely and successfully testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which lead to conviction.
Speakers will include former Attorney General Mike Turpen and Mike Fields, President, Oklahoma District Attorneys.
In addition, the following panel of Oklahomans whose lives have also been affected by crime will speak during the event:
Brooks Douglass, a former Oklahoma State Senator, whose parents were murdered during a home invasion, has became a champion for victims’ issues and produced the movie, Heaven’s Rain.
Terry Ingmire, a former Oklahoma State Representative who was shot by a man with a shotgun at his front door, has subsequently carried many proposals to address victims’ issues.
Gina Barry, whose husband Bob Barry, Jr., was killed by a man driving without a license and in possession of CDS (controlled dangerous substances).
Cindi Broaddus, recognized by Oklahoma’s State Senate for the formation of “The Cindi Broaddus Law” for her bravery after she was struck by a bucket of sulfuric acid dropped from an overpass on I-44.
Deb Stanaland, the current Crime Victims Compensation Board Chair, Survivor of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, and Oklahoma’s Mother of the Year.
Linda Green-Bennett, whose husband, Trooper Nic Green, was fatally shot on the side of the road by a man high on methamphetamine. In 2004, HB 2176 was signed into law, also known as the “Trooper Nic Green, Rocky Eales and Matthew Evans Act, making Oklahoma the first state to reclassify pseudoephedrine as a Schedule V drug.
Recognition awards will also be given to key players in the formation of the Crime Victims Compensation Act.
“We are honored to sponsor such an important celebration of Crime Victims Rights in Oklahoma,” Fields added. “Historically speaking, we have come so far and we are proud of our progress. We still have miles to go, and we are certain the next 35 years will bring even more focus, attention and services to victims of crime in our state.”
There is no charge for this event; however, RSVP is requested to ensure an accurate count for lunch. To RSVP or sponsor this event, click here.
For more information, contact Tina Harman at 405-760-3737 or Meagan Conway at 405-264-5000.