Kentuckians now have a vital resource to help crime victims navigate the criminal and civil legal system thanks to the work of outgoing members of Attorney General Andy Beshear’s inaugural Survivors Council.
The Crime Victims Information Guide is part of the inaugural council’s final annual report recently issued by members who began their two-year term in 2017 as part of the first-of-its-kind survivors’ council in any attorney general’s office nationwide.
Next week, Beshear will announce the incoming survivors council members to serve for 2019-2020.
As part of their work in their final year on the council, members created the crime victims guide with Beshear’s Office of Victims Advocacy so that other crime victims would know their rights and understand how multiple government agencies interact and what key services those agencies provide to victims.
The victims guide and the annual report are housed on the attorney general’s website – ag.ky.gov.
Beshear said the guide will be part of the council’s legacy because members are survivors of crimes themselves who understand the information victims need.
Council members are survivors of homicide, mass shooting, DUI, gun violence, felony assault, stalking, revenge porn, human trafficking, campus rape, sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence.
“In the past, we did not bring survivors to the table,” Beshear said. “That’s no longer the case thanks to the hard work and passion of our inaugural survivors council members. Their stories, dedication and compassion have empowered me to push for real change in our culture so survivors have a voice in the policies and decisions that impact them.”
As part of its annual report, the council highlighted the tremendous legislative successes of several of its members during its second year. These include advocating for the successful passage of Marsy’s Law, a child marriage bill, and a change to Kentucky’s definition of rape to bring it in line with federal definitions and protect more victims.
Marsy’s Law of Kentucky presented Beshear and the Survivors Council an award for advocacy in 2018, and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs presented its 2018 Innovative Program Award to Beshear and the Survivors Council.
Council members provided training and consultation to multiple state and local agencies, including assistance to the Office of the Attorney General in work supporting the community of Marshall County following the Jan. 23, 2018, tragic high school shooting.
Due to her work on the council, Brittney Thomas, survivor of mass violence, now serves as a member of the Survivors and Providers Stakeholder Forum to the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center.
Several survivors chronicled their work on the council in a video to help show the impact of their advocacy over the last two years.
The AG’s Survivors Council makes several recommendations in its annual report, including one that all public officials who serve the Commonwealth in state and local government should be required to receive gender-equality training, and another recommendation that workplaces provide awareness and education on how to recognize the signs that someone in the workplace has been victimized by crime.
A full list of the members’ recommendations can be found in its report on the AG’s website.