Governor Marc Racicot presents Anita Richards with the U.S. Department of Justice Certificate of Appreciation for National Crime Victims' Rights Week, 1999. Richards was nominated for the national award by Racicot and the Montana Department of Corrections Director Rick Day for her work for victims' rights. She got involved in working for victims' rights in 1995 by supporting the Truth in Sentencing law in the 1995 Montana Legislature, serving as co-chairman of the Crime Victims Advisory Council of the Department of Corrections, sitting on the Department's Policy Task Force as a victims' representative and starting the Victims Impact Panel at the Treasure State Correctional Training Center in Deer Lodge.
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
May 13, 1999
by Patricia Swan Smith
Governor Marc Racicot presented local resident Anita Richards a national certificate of achievement for her work as a statewide advocate for the rights of crime victims. She received the certificate May 5th at the State Capitol.
This certificate of appreciation was part of the National Crime Victims' Rights Week, 1999, which ran from April 25th through May 1st.
Raciot and Department of Corrections Director Rick Day nominated Richards for the Crime Victim Service Award. She was one of 177 people nominated this year. Only eight people are selected for the award.
Richards got involved in the corrections system during the 1995 Montana Legislature while supporting the Truth in Sentencing law. Since that time she has stayed very active in helping work for victims rights. She is co-chairman of the Crime Victims Advisory Council of the Department of Corrections and sits on the Department's Policy Task Force as a victims' representative.
She also started the Victims Impact Panel at the Treasure State Correctional Training Center (TSCTC) in Deer Lodge, formally known as the boot camp, which was located in the Swan Valley. This panel allows her to work directly with crime victims across the state.
During the panel, victims face offenders and tell them how being a victim has affected their and their families lives. The offenders, most of them in tears, and many of them looking at victims with real empathy for the first time in their lives, write letters about how the victims panel has helped them see how their crimes affected their victims. Many vow to never victimize again after they finish their time in the system. (The victims are selected so they are not facing their offender)
Both Racicot and Day praised Richards for taking part in helping the Department of Corrections understand victims and showing them how important it is that the victims rights not be forgotten about in the process of justice.
Racicot thanked Richards for making the state a better place through her constructive work in trying to improve the lives and rights of the victims.
The letter from Kathryn Turman, acting director of the U.S. Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime, which accompanied the certificate read:
"Dear Governor Racicot: ...Selecting a small number of award recipients from such an outstanding group has been a difficult challenge. Although your nominee was not selected as a finalist, we were inspired by Mrs. Richards' compassionate service to crime victims. We encourage you to present this certificate to the nominee ...so that Mrs. Richards' dedication might serve as an example to others. I am truly grateful for the positive impact that Mrs. Anita M. Richards has had on crime victims she serves."
Richards said she was very honored, and hoped that more and more victims would be able to make the change from victims to survivors. She said that she intends to continue to work with the corrections department and hoped that more victims would get involved in the process.
Sgt. Miller from the TSCTC also presented Richards with a Certificate of Appreciation from the TSCTC. The award read: "For Your Participation in the Victim Impact Panel With Sincere Thanks for Your Valuable Contributions of Concern, Time, and Caring to Help Change Lives."