The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, September 09, 1985, Image 5

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Monday, September 9,1985/The Battalion/Page 5 Victim’s Bill of Rights allows legal input for victim, family By JENS B. KOEPKE Staff Writer Ayouneboy is murdered. During a meeting oetween the judge and the attorneys, the boy’s fathet asks the judge to hear his side of the story. The judge replies, “1 don’t give a damn about you, this is between me and the defendant.” This is an example of the exclusio- naryjudicial process that victims and their relatives have encountered, saidjoyce Knoll, chapter leader with The Parents of Murdered Children. Addressing the growing criticism from victim’s groups, the state legis lature passed House Bill 235, the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights. It took effect on Sept. 1, 1985. “It’s high lime that the victims ! were brought into the process . . . af ter all they were the ones who were traumatized," said Rep. Frank Te jeda, co-sponsor of the oill. The bill mandates that courts ex plain the procedure of all judicial processes to the victims ancl notif v the victims of any trial cancellations or postponements. Often, said Knoll, victims take off work to at tend a trial only to get there and find out it has been postponed. In addition, the legislation allows, atthejudge’s discretion, for the vic tim’s presence in the courtroom “Before, witnesses were paraded through the courtroom, saying what a great guy the defendant was, but "Before the law, the victim was totally dependent on the system; he had no le gal input,” said James Knoll, leader of Parents of Murdered Children. now victims will have more say at trials," said James Knoll, president of Parents of Murdered Children and Joyce’s husband. "I think you’ll see some stiffer pe nalties as a result of the family being present," Mrs. Knoll said. Also, magistrates must now take the saf ety of the victim into consider ation when setting the amount of hail. The law also broadened the defi nition of "a victim” to include spouses, parents, adult relatives or legal guardians, if the victim died. The most important aspect of the new law , said Tejeda, is the establish ment of the Y’ictim Impact Statement. The statement allows the victim to tell the court how the crime af fected his family financially, physi cally and psychologically. The statement is considered by the judge when sentencing the de fendant and bv the Parole Board at parole hearings. The statement is in cluded in the defendant’s Texas De partment of Corrections folder. “I think it (the statement) will bring the violence of the crime more into focus at sentencing," Knoll said. “Before the law, the victim was to tally dependent on the system; he haa no legal input,” Knoll said. The bill exemplifies the more ac commodating posture that courts are taking toward victims, said Texas A&M sociology professor Ben Crouch. He cited the construction of separate waiting rooms for witnesses and victims and for offenders at a Beaumont courthouse as an exam ple of the court’s new outlook. At this point 28 states have passed crime victims legislation similar to the Texas law. In addition, the fed eral Victims of Crime Act was passed in 1984. “I think the law gives the victim a better sense of satisfaction,” said Suzanne Willms, director of the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse. The bill directs the Clearinghouse to conduct a survey on the number and type of people to whom state and local agencies provide Victim Impact Statements during each year. * T * if * * * * * * * * * 4 4 4- pid You Know a student o/r&aniz atiom SHOWS 8 MOVIES A WEEK? THE MEMBERS Select* the eil_n\s j Handle publicity, and> other ASPECTS AS WELL.THEY ALSO ElND time to party, tvae GtRcoe is msc asg-ie C1MEMAj MEETINGS ARE EVERY MOklDAY \td RUDDER TOWER. CALL 15TS; OR CoME — ROOM 2_Up) MSC, EOR MORE \HFORMATION. San Antonio’s murder rate increasing Associated Press SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio police, facing a 30 percent rise in the city’s murder rate over the first eight months of 1985, say there’s no one reason for the increase. ■BH-Pt corded 130 homicides in 1985, com pared with 97 reported for the first eight months of 1984. A total of 166 homicides took place in San Antonio last year, police say. Trying' , to go it alone? You can rely on God’s love and power—as dhrist Jesus taught. This is what Christian Science worship services are about each Sunday rhOrning and Wednesday Evening. You’re invited to come and explore God’s goodness with us. Open Tues., Wed., & Sat. 12:30-3:30 p.m. Wed.7:30-8:00 p.m. Christian Science Reading Room 201 Boyett, College Station, Tx. Si “Sure, we’re alarmed at an> crease,” said homicide Lt. Ja mey. “We don’t like it if there’s just one murder. But there’s real pattern in homicides in San Antonio. We go through ups and downs in our mur ders, just like any big city.” Summey said part of the increase in the murder rate is attributable to an increase in the number of illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America. “We’re seeing a greater number of illegal aliens than before on both ends of the picture, both as victims and suspects,” Summey said. “It’s a conservative guess that about 15 to 20 percent of the homicides this year involved aliens.” Another factor is San Antonio’s growth, police say. Since 1980, San Antonio has experienced a growth rate of 10.8 percent, increasing its population by more than 80,000. Drinking, narcotics use, poverty and the weather also are factors, Summey said, but what prompts people to kill remains elusive. “Friday and Saturday nights are out heaviest homicide nights. That’s when folks are off, they’ve been paid and they’re drinking,” Summey said. “Most of the homicides occur in the lower-income areas. And the biggest increase in homicides this year oc curred during the last three months, when it got hot.” But Summey said there’s “no such thing as a typical homicide.” “You can’t say what will trigger it,” he said. We’re dealing with people. And where people interact, there’s a potential for violence.” OCEAN CHEF SALAD Buy one..get the other free! Here’s a thirst-quenching, money-saving offer from Long John Silver’s and Dr. Pepper. Buy any Seafood Dinner or Long John Silvers. G seafood shoppes Chiller r and well give you a full liter of Dr. Pepper, absolutely free! 'Includes shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops and all Chillers Does not include fish dinners Offer good for a limited time only at 1808 Texas Ave., College Station & 3224 S. 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