By Julia Avant
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 9:18 PM CDT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – In 1982, Alabama had no laws in the books to support crime victims in the state. That changed because of one woman, Miriam Shehane.
She founded the Montgomery organization, Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
“I can’t believe it’s been 40 years,” said Shehane.
“She saw all these things that were wrong, and she kept saying this is not right, I’m going to do something about it ,” said Janette Grantham, executive director of VOCAL.
Forty years ago, there were no laws for people like Sheane and her daughter.
“Victims were not allowed in the courtroom,” Grantham recalled. “The prosecution only got one jury strike when the defendant got two.”
Grantham said victims and their families weren’t even notified when a convict involved in their case was on parole, and that all changed when Shehane created the organization.
Supporters of the group celebrated its founder and that they were able to make 29 law available for crime victims in the state.
“I can’t explain it, I never in my wildest imagination that VOCAL would still be around,” said Shehane.
Mirium said she is most proud of after 40 years that VOCAL was able to fight for the right for victims to be able to be present during their trial.
As for the future of the group, Grantham said they look forward to the next legislation session in hopes of making more change and that the organization is currently fighting for victims’ rights in multiple murder cases in the state.
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