Md. agency plans crime victim event
04/15/2011
The Calvert Recorder - Online

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If someone has been a victim of a crime in the past or wants to be prepared for the future, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services wants to help.

The state agency will hold a community awareness fair from 3 to 6 p.m. today at the Waldorf Parole and Probation Office where residents can learn about victim services at all levels of the criminal justice system. The event is part of Crime Victims' Rights Week.

"We as an agency, we are known for locking people up for parole and probation violations, but we really do so much more for victims than the general public realizes," said Mark Vernarelli, director of public information for DPSCS.

The DPSCS is the largest department in state government, he said, adding that "we have people at every level who do nothing but work with victims."

According to a press release from the department, the "DPSCS has victim service units that help victims navigate the criminal justice system while holding their offender accountable. The department also runs the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which provides compensation to victims for psychological and physical losses associated with crime, also falls under DPSCS."

In addition to the DPSCS, the event will offer information from several partner agencies including the Center for Abused Persons, Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center, Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy, Walden Sierra and the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said Danielle Lueking, deputy public information officer for DPSCS.

She added that the event is twofold. Agencies will have the opportunity to reach the whole group with a presentation and also have a table with informational brochures where they can speak to residents one on one.

This is the first year DSPCS has coordinated awareness fairs throughout the state, she said.

Lueking said the fairs have been beneficial not only for the residents, but also for the agencies.

"We all work together towards the same goal," she said, however, in some cases, they haven't actually met the person on the other end of the phone. "The networking has been really positive for us."

If you go

The Southern Maryland Community Awareness Fair will be held 3-6 p.m. April 15 at the Parole and Probation Office, 25 Industrial Park Drive, Waldorf. For more information on the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, go to www.dpscs.maryland.gov and click on "Victim Services."