Crime survivors rally in Phoenix to call for trauma centers, more resources

Crime survivors rally in Phoenix to call for trauma centers, more resources

More than 100 crime survivors, families and supporters gathered at the Arizona State Capitol Monday morning to advocate to state lawmakers for legislative reforms to address the root causes of crime and prioritize trauma recovery services.

The event was the second Survivors Speak Arizona gathering hosted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, an organization that pushes for crime victim resources nationwide through public safety policy advocacy.

Survivors who spoke during the rally said Arizona’s criminal justice system has failed to prioritize people who feel the need to commit crimes and create a path to “stopping the cycle of violence.” Speakers demanded funding for a trauma recovery center to remove existing barriers to mental health services, victim compensation, financial assistance and legal counsel resources.

Selina Meadows, a domestic violence survivor and state manager of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, told the Arizona Republic that she and her three children have faced systemic barriers trying to escape abusive situations and access support, such as long waiting lists and lack of finances. help

Meadows said it took her at least four months to get a place at a domestic violence shelter. She received no financial support, struggled to maintain a protection order and faced long waits to access trauma therapy for each of her children, she said.

“It was a big hurdle for me and my kids to find somewhere safe when we needed it most,” Meadows said. “Currently, we don’t have a system that supports getting out, but it also doesn’t support staying away from domestic violence.”

Meadows said Arizona’s criminal justice system could do a better job of listening to people who have had experiences like hers and allowing people with crime experiences to be involved in shaping public policy.

“My story shows the overwhelming need for all these services. Many of them aren’t even specific to domestic violence,” Meadows said.

A trauma center will allow people to access all the resources they need as they navigate the system from a traumatic event, including therapy and personalized care plans customized for their recovery process, Meadows said.

Thirty-five trauma centers have been successfully implemented by CSSJ chapters across the country in states such as California, Illinois and Ohio, Meadows said.

People at the rally also demanded passage of state legislation that would allow people with low-level criminal records to gain access to employment and housing resources, such as occupational licenses and probation credit opportunities.

Charlotte Weber, a sex trafficking and domestic violence survivor who spoke at the event, said these resources will help address some of the root causes of violence and make communities safer.

“As a victim of crime, I have seen firsthand that there is more we can do to end the cycle of trauma and crime and to ensure people have the tools to succeed after they serve their time,” she said. “Establishing barriers to jobs and financial stability does not make us safer.”

As last year’s survivors spoke at the Arizona rally, the House passed bills 2604 and 2594. The first law strengthens the mandate to protect crime survivors while the latter defines the services and funding required of providers to qualify as a trauma recovery center, laying the foundation for that. The organization pushes for recovery centers.

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice spokeswoman Julien Matinez said House Bill 2055, regarding probation credit opportunities for people convicted of felonies, was passed by a unanimous vote just two hours after Monday’s incident.

Aswad Thomas, director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and a gun violence survivor, said at the rally’s news conference that the criminal justice system often focuses too much on incarceration and not enough on prevention or recovery support.

“We say ‘when survivors speak, change happens’ because we need change,” she said. “We need things that help us heal and stop the cycle of violence.”

Sen. Sen. Kerr, R-Buck., also attended the rally.

Kerr said he supports the agency’s claims, and he encouraged activists to continue pushing for protections and resources for people who experience crime.

“We agree that we need more local workers to support our local businesses and strengthen our economy. We also agree that people with nonviolent records should be given opportunities to give back to their communities, so they can be productive citizens,” Kerr said. There are common sense ways to close the revolving door while lifting up those who are ready to give up.”

Martinez said the organization will continue to push for the passage of HB2049, regarding the removal of barriers to occupational licensure, and HB2612, regarding the creation of Arizona’s first trauma recovery center.

“Next year, and the year after that, we’ll be at the state capitol again demanding change,” Martinez said.

This article originally appeared in the Arizona Republic: Crime survivors rally at Arizona Capitol for trauma center

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