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DA announces new support alliance for crime victims

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday announced a new program to help connect victims of crime with community resources and volunteers who can help them navigate the criminal justice system.

Newly elected District Attorney Raúl Torrez said the Victims Services Alliance will also work to help crime victims understand what to expect out of the justice process, while keeping them informed about the status of pending cases.

“The most frustrating part of the criminal justice system is that too often we spend most of our time focusing on the defendant,” he said. “But it’s equally important that we give victims the kind of respect and dignity and support they deserve.”

Several advocacy groups will have dedicated space inside the DA’s Office. Spokesman Michael Patrick said the office anticipates up to 10 groups will eventually be involved. Organizations already committed to the alliance include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death and the Rape Crisis Center.

Patrick said that although the DA’s Office has victim advocates on staff, those employees balance hundreds of cases. Volunteers working with the alliance can offer additional help and support to people navigating the criminal justice system.

Nicole Chavez-Lucero, whose son was killed in a drive-by shooting, said working with people who have been through the system will help victims understand what to expect out of what can be a long, frustrating and emotional process.

“The worst thing in the world has already happened to us as victims of violent crime,” she said. “And to get thrown into the judicial process is extremely traumatic.”