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2011 column image: 
2011 column title: 

National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims

2011 column date: 
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
2011 column text: 
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

This Sunday, September 25th, marks the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, a day to honor the lives of those taken by violent crime.


MADISON — This Sunday, September 25th, marks a meaningful day for countless families and loved ones of murder victims. It is this year's National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, a day to honor the lives of those taken by violent crime.


It's also a time to recognize the pain and the tremendous courage of those surviving family members and friends, and to thank the law enforcement officers, prosecutors and others who work tirelessly in search of justice.


To many untouched directly by the crime of murder, it is a news headline, but for victims' families and those working in public safety and criminal justice, the impact is far reaching and long lasting.


At the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Crime Victim Services (OCVS), serves as an advocate, ensuring that victims know their rights and where to turn, and helping Wisconsin service providers get the resources necessary to treat crime victims and their families with fairness, dignity and respect.


In its Crime in Wisconsin 2010 report, the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance reports the murder rate last year was 2.8 per 100,000 Wisconsin residents. For every victim, there are loved ones – a mother or father, sibling or best friend, neighbor or co-worker – who must endure a sudden and tragic loss.


Many people believe time is a natural healer, but consider the effect of an unsolved case that has run cold. Those survivors live years without answers, with little peace because justice is delayed.


That's why the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has taken an aggressive approach toward the investigation of unsolved homicides with grant money from the U.S. Department of Justice that's also used to assist local agencies devote resources to “cold cases.” This year alone, DCI investigators have reviewed dozens of cold case files, reviewed or re-submitted for testing hundreds of pieces of evidence and done hundreds of witness interviews, all in an attempt to bring closure to families. And these efforts have been successful. Crimes have been solved and criminals have been convicted.

But, with the re-activation of a “cold case” comes a range of emotions for survivors. Some feel hopeful the case will be solved. Others may dread recounting the details as if the murder happened yesterday. The professionals working these cases must be sensitive to these emotions while, at the same time, they aggressively pursue justice.


The National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims sends a critical and powerful message to these individuals that we, as a nation, remember their tragedy, honor their courage and vow to help them rebuild their lives because violent crime affects every one of us. Let Sunday be a call to work diligently to prevent the violence that destroys lives and devastates families.


To learn more about the OCVS, or to access resources for crime victims, go here.