By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Mary Katherine Spencer, chief advocate of victims’ advocacy firm Survival, Inc., said for those who haven’t felt the fallout of violent crime, the issue may seem cloudy and distant.
“It’s an odd subject for a lot of people,” she said. “There is a lot of support for a couple of weeks, then usually people kind of revert back to their normal lives.”
This leaves victims’ families to cope with loss and face the legal system alone. Survival, Inc. helps them navigate the court procedures and makes sure they are aware of their rights, from the right to be notified within 60 days of an arrest to the right to be present in all criminal proceedings.
They also offer support groups for adults and children, as well as a 24/7 toll-free crisis hotline.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. signed a proclamation Monday designating this week Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Tupelo.
For people like Vivian Miller, whose son Craig Mink was murdered two years ago, the experience is clear as day.
“You hear about it on the news, but in the back of your mind you think it’ll never happen to your family or a family close to you,” she said. “When [Mink] was killed, I wouldn’t have made it through without guidance. I was in bad shape.”
Miller, along with her daughter Gayla Green and Green’s grandson Nathan George, attended the mayor’s proclamation Monday morning.
“We found Survival Inc. and started going to their support groups, and it helped,” Green said. “They went to trial with us, and helped us at home.”
Reed said Crime Victims’ Rights Week is especially pertinent after last week’s bombing of the Boston Marathon.
“There are so many ripple effects that come after a violent crime,” he said. “It is our duty to define and address the problems and find new solutions to help victims cope with their blame, fears, and desire to hold perpetrators accountable.”