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AG looking for creative ways to help crime victims

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$1.1 million. That's more than double what Guam typically receives in federal aid for crime victims services. The Attorney General's Office is looking for new, creative ways to service victims of crime.

No one wants to fall victim to any crime, as Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson said, "Do I think that the territory of Guam does a great job for victims of crime? I'm going to have to say no. We have a large population of underserved victims of crime. The elderly is underserved. Victims of theft are underserved. The greatest population of served victims of crime is domestic violence and sexual assault."

Barrett-Anderson recently returned from a victims of crime administrator training in DC over 200 others representing all the states and territories were present. All learned more federal dollars were available for crime victims services. "$1.1 million is huge crime victim money. Huge, huge," said the AG. Guam used to receive $450,000 - the dramatic increase prompted the AG to form a victim advisory group. "I'm looking for members of the community who can just give me ideas of how to best reach the victims," she said.

The group has already met twice with plans to meet again later this month. Aside from new, creative ideas to service crime victims, old programs will also see big changes, like victim advocates. Today, there are only nine victim advocates for 4,000 cases. "I think it's clear that when I was judge on the bench, the ability to manually contact victims on Guam is difficult" said Barrett-Anderson.

Victim crime money can be used to hire more advocates. It can also be used to bid out for an automated system. She said, "What I'd like to do with the advocate program is reformat it. I want the advocate program to be a 21st Century advocate program."

Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system allows a victim to use a phone to access information on their perpetrator. The system works both ways and calls the victim when there are updates on the defendant's release. "You will get a passcode," explained the AG. "And you're allowed to call into a 1-866 number and you'll be able to find out what's the status your perpetrator has been charged on. You'll be able to get information on release dates. You'll be able to get information about trial dates."

Victims can also receive compensation. The Attorney General's Office will be activating the criminal injuries compensation commission next month. The commission wasn't in operation for years, but has an estimated $700,000 in the fund. The money comes from defendant fees and fines. "And the criminal injuries compensation fund is a fund that permits victims of crime to apply for compensation, eligible compensation, such as if the family is a victim and their loved one is murdered," she said.

If you have any questions on any services for crime victims, call the Attorney General's Office.

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