Community walk supports crime victims; D.A.-led event April 14 open to all

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney’s Office invites the public to walk in the shoes of victims of violent crimes, who often find themselves discouraged and lost in the complicated criminal justice system.

In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week 2018, a one-mile awareness walk showing solidarity for victims will take place rain or shine at 10 a.m. April 14 at Thomas F. Daley Memorial Park on U.S. 51 in LaPlace.

Free and open to the public, event registration takes place from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and is followed by a welcome ceremony.

After the walk concludes, participants will be treated to healthy snacks and water.

Tents with seating are available for those who cannot complete the walk but still wish to show support.

The effects of crime are far-reaching and directly or indirectly touch almost every family in St. John Parish, according to District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut.

For Dinvaut, the cause is personal and hard-hitting. Violent crime claimed the life of one of her relatives, and her daily work involves hearing stories of victims overwhelmed by a complex justice process offering little relief from the trauma they have endured.

“From a personal aspect, I understand how difficult it is for victims to go through the criminal justice system,” Dinvaut said. “There are a lot of challenges that come with it, and victims often get frustrated with continued trials. As the District Attorney’s Office, it’s important for us to make sure we address the concerns they have and assist them in taking the necessary steps.”

She said unless someone is a lawyer, it’s difficult to understand arraignments, preliminary exams, discovery, motions to suppress and other elements of the trial process.

It helps victims to know there are people on their side, Dinvaut said.

“We want everybody to know that we are cognizant, as a community, and stand by all victims of crime because crime touches the lives of so many of our families and friends,” Dinvaut said.

The first local crime victims’ rights awareness event took the form of a banquet in 2016, Dinvaut said.

This year, staff wanted to incorporate the 2018 national theme “Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims” by educating residents on how they can support crime victims.

Free registration includes gift packs containing T-shirts, water bottles, hand sanitizers and educational information about serving as a witness in a criminal trial.

While registering, participants can include who they are walking in honor of, whether it’s a specific individual or all victims touched by crime.

Dinvaut said participants do not have to be crime victims to show support.

She extends a sincere thank you to the many individual and business sponsors who donated to the event.

For more information, call Jennifer Duhe at 985-618-1317.