August 12, 2015 – Middle Georgia victims of crime recently met with Georgia law enforcement officers to share their concerns about offenders and to learn status updates of criminal cases at the Victims Visitors’ Day held on July 30 at Fort Valley State University’s C. W. Pettigrew Center. The event was sponsored by the Georgia Office of Victim Services and State Rep. Patty James-Bentley (D-130).
During the 10 a.m. opening ceremony, victims learned about the purpose of the meeting, and heard from other victims. The state began the visitors’ days in 2006. The Georgia Parole Board visits communities around the state to meet with victims.
James-Bentley thanked victims’ families and parole workers for visiting Middle Georgia for the Victims’ Visitors Day. The congresswoman told individuals she attended other visitors’ days around the state and witnessed, firsthand, the powerful impact the events had to improve the lives of victims.
According to Terry E. Barnard, chairman of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, after victims’ families attend the event, most leave feeling their voices have been heard and their needs have been met.
“We want victims’ families to become survivors,” he said. “We set aside Victims’ Visitors Days to listen to crime victims and have them tell their concerns about the future. We believe that these days help to empower victims and helps provide them with a pathway to becoming survivors.”
Martha McAfee, a city administrator for Fort Valley, Ga., who spoke on behalf of Dr. Jessica Bailey, welcomed victims’ families to the event. FVSU interim president Jessica Bailey thanked families and supporters for coming to the university’s campus to meet with parole officers.
“This collaboration of agencies is why we can be proud of protecting victims’ rights as a campus,” Bailey said. “We’re proud of the work we’re engaged in to protect victims’ rights as a campus. By offering a criminal justice degree is only one way that we serve our community as a campus.”
Arleshia Pettigrew, keynote speaker for the event, provided an account about her daughter, Latosha Taylor. Her daughter’s ex-fiancé Jomeika Pope, set Taylor afire after celebrating one of their children’s birthdays.
The young woman, who suffered third degree burns over her body, slipped into a coma and died several months later on Oct. 1, the month dedicated to remembering domestic violence victims. Michael W. Nail, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, delivered the closing remarks.
“We recognize the importance of providing a service to victims,” Nail said.“We thank victims for having the courage to be here today. We don’t take it lightly. This day is about you being heard, and having your voices heard, and we thank you for the being here. It’s a privilege.”
Following the opening ceremony, families met with parole officials individually. Later, FVSU students and alums in the Pettigrew Center auditorium learned about job opportunities with the state law enforcement during a mini job fair.
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Christina D. Milton, public relations specialist
Marketing and Communications
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