Program receives grant to offer more assistance to crime victims

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. – The county received $175,000 grant to fund an advocacy project that outreaches to crime victims in Spanish-speaking communities.

One Imperial County official we talked to said crime victims often find themselves not trusting anyone.

“Whether it be county or whatever, the DA [District Attorney] or prosecutors,” District 1 Supervisor John Renison said.

Then there’s the language barrier that also hinders victims from receiving help.

“Especially low-income people don’t have a place to go, a lot of times there’s distrust,” Renison said.

The DA’s Office said victims don’t have to be defenseless.

“We have more rights that are given to crime victims here,” said Assistant DA Deborah Owen.

But the legal system can be intimidating for a Spanish-speaking victim.

“What the challenge is, is many times explaining the nuances of the criminal justice system,” Owen said.

That’s why the Imperial County Latino Advocacy Project recently received a grant to change that.

“This grant will allow us to hire two more that do the outreach into the Spanish-speaking community focusing, again, on people that may have a reluctance, may not be aware of their rights,” Owen said.

Besides giving victims more information, they will provide counseling.

“So the unique part about this is we will meet and send the advocates wherever the individual feels more comfortable,” Owen said.

An office at the local California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) will be used.

“Some of these victims are already clients of CRLA,” Owen said.

“It’s an excellent partnership where the county can partnership with the community,” Renison said.

The DA’s office said it was ready to help crime victims. It’s just a matter of victims coming forward.

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