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Record editorial: It's Victims' Rights Week -- show up and show support

Things are better for crime victims now than they were 25 years ago, but things could always be better.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week is being observed nationwide this week, and in that spirit it's good to be able to note that justice for victims has progressed dramatically since the 1980s.

All states and the federal government have comprehensive victims' rights laws, and 33 states have constitutional amendments to protect victims' rights. Every state has a victim compensation fund, and thousands of service agencies help victims nationwide.

On the other hand, even states with strong victims' rights laws do not always honor these rights. Victims may not be notified about court proceedings and their right to be present.

They may not know that they have a right to be heard at sentencing and to be informed of offender status.

Victims may not be informed about compensation they are entitled to receive or have orders of restitution be enforced.

Court delays may continue to interrupt victims' lives and recovery.

Crime victims who suffer perhaps some of the deepest scars include rape victims and abused children.

And Becker County is far from immune to the problem, according to the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center.

Most victims of sexual assault are between the ages of 13 and 17. Coping with being the victim of sexual assault and facing the perpetrator in court can be overwhelming at that young age.

A 2005 study by the State Health Department found that 61,000 Minnesota residents reported being sexually assaulted, some more than once, for a total of 77,000 assaults -- enough to fill the Metrodome.

The cost to the state was almost $8 billion, approximately $1,540 per resident. Most of the money went to the investigation, prosecution, and incarceration of the offenders, not to the victims.

Sexual violence in Minnesota costs more than three times as much as drunk driving.

To bring the problem into the open, the Lakes Crisis Center is sponsoring Spring Fest on Thursday.

It includes a walk to honor victims, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Washington School and ending at the Pavilion, where people will gather for food and fun activities.

Another event will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 29, at MSCTC, in which three victims of crime or family members will share their stories. The evening will finish with a candlelight ceremony.

Come out and support the events. As a community, we need to stand behind those harmed by crime.