National Crime Victims’ Right Week was commemorated earlier this spring as part of a state-wide effort in eight of the state Board of Probation and Parole’s districts.
During a ceremony at the front entrance of the Blount County Justice Center on April 20, District Attorney Mike Flynn gathered with state officials, area law enforcement, victims’ rights advocates and concerned citizens to show support to victims of violent crime.
Flynn praised the Board of Probation and Parole for helping victims by keeping those who need to be incarcerated behind bars. “They work closely with us to identify those who need to stay in prison,” he said.
Yusuf Hakeem, a member of the Board of Probation and Parole, said the board was started in response to a concern that the impact of crime on victims was not being considered, and victims weren’t being served. “As a result, we developed the Board of Probation and Parole,” he said.
Hakeem said some victims can speak up for themselves in the justice system. “Some victims have a voice, some do not,” he said during the ceremony dedicating the tree in the Victim’s Garden at the front of the Justice Center. “We dedicate this to those victims without a voice.”
Mary Caylor, victim witness with the Blount County District Attorney’s Office, was given the Voice of Victims Award by the Board of Probation and Parole for her work representing victims and their family.
Caylor said that for 13 years she worked with the American Red Cross Blount County Chapter and helped victims of man-made and natural disasters. “Now, for the past three years, I have worked with victims of man-made disasters -- victims or the families of victims devastated by a violent crime,” she said.
Caylor said it has always been a joke in her family that she cannot cook, sew, dance, draw, write or carry a tune. “My daddy always said that it was okay because I had compassion. That is something you can’t learn,” she said. “I love what I do, and it is something I can give back to the people in my community.”
Caylor said she Flynn attend probation hearings on a regular bases and write on the average of six to eight letters of opposition a month. “It is so important that our victims and their families know that we are supporting them and are going to help them through the judicial process with as much dignity and compassion that we can.”