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Prison System Gives Aid to Crime Victims

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RALEIGH — Crime victims in North Carolina are getting help from an unlikely source --the prison system. The state is working to bring the two sides of the issue together.

NC now has victim information coordinators at each prison to help relatives of crime victims get what they need -- information on prisoner paroles and releases. Monday, prison employees got an education in victims' rights.

April Mial, who lost her boyfriend, says she had a lot to deal with when he was killed.

Mial says she felt like her life was over. Now, she is giving people who work for the state's prisons a better understanding of what the victims' loved ones go through. Juanita Baker of the NC Parole Commission says it's only fair that they should hear from those grieving.

The purpose of the six statewide seminars is to help the prison system reach out to victims' families. It can offer information about where the inmate is and when he or she will be released. More importantly, according to victim information coordinator Dorothy Ledford, prison personnel can listen.

Janice Fletcher's brother was shot and killed. It was an experience that changed her life forever. She says she believes victims need more rights and more support.

The legislature will vote on a victim's rights amendment in the next session. The amendment would guarantee that victims and their families are informed about court proceedings. They would also have a right to be heard at sentencing and to get restitution.


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