Balancing the Scales of Justice
VOCAL, Victims of Crime and Leniency, was organized in 1982 to create a more balanced system. Somewhere along the way, victim's rights across the nation, for all practical purposes, were non-existent. The same system that victims expected to protect them was hampered due to the aggressive efforts to ensure the rights of the offenders were protected. Vocal's goal has been to balance the scales of justice by giving crime victims those same rights rather than eroding the offender's rights.
Vocal initially focused on legislation to rectify the imbalance. Crime victims individually and methodically contacted legislators on behalf of crime legislation and have seen the fruit of their efforts to include a favorable method in selecting a jury. Today, the crime victim cannot be excluded from the courtroom simply because of their testimony at trial. Criminals can now compensate a crime victim for their victimization.
The Parole Board is mandated to notify victims of a violent crime when their offender is being considered for parole, and a Victim's Rights Constitutional Amendment has been ratified to protect the rights of the victim throughout the judicial process.
Vocal has an approximate 1900 membership with chapters throughout the state. The diverse board of Directors consists of attorneys, financial institution officers, educators, new media, and crime victims. The organization has expanded its advocacy to include free counseling from a certified counselor, support at trials and parole hearings, crime scene cleanup, death notification, informing the victims of their rights, and apprising the public of the plight of crime victims.
Over the years, Vocal has gained a great rapport with law enforcement and District attorneys. Police departments and the District Attorney's Victim Service Officers utilize Vocal's staff and volunteers available around the clock for death notification, crime scene cleanup, and crisis counseling.