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Victims Conference Empowers Victims

21st April 2008


Victims attending the Sensible Sentencing Trust 2008 “Advancing Victim Rights”conference in Wellington over the weekend found the experience very empowering.

Comments such as, “great to realize we are not alone,” and “Empowering talking to others in the same situation” or “I didn’t think I would ever laugh again” is the sort of feedback the organizers are getting.

Leigh Woodman who’s her daughter was murdered in Wellington 11 years ago said she found the conference very empowering and would be encouraging others to attend if given the opportunity.

“After all these years it is so empowering to be given a voice again, to be empowered again, to feel like someone actually cares and to feel it is okay to laugh again.”

Brian Brown’s daughter was also murdered and he said he also found the conference an incredible experience, “Since losing Natasha every day has been incredibly tough, to be in the company of others who have walked the same walk is an experience I will never forget, I didn’t think I would laugh again but I have this weekend.”

Trust Spokesman Garth McVicar said the feedback had been amazing, “It is a sad reflection on society that the numbers of families affected by homicide are continuing to grow at alarming rates, but it is hugely rewarding to be able to do something that is able to offer some sort of comfort to them.”

“We are meant to be a caring society but these families face an extremely lonely battle, the conference is something little we can do for them, we thank the sponsors enormously for making it possible, a little compassion and humanity goes a long way for these people.”

The Sensible Sentencing Trust also launched its “Three Strikes” law drafted by Barrister David Garrett. A draft was given to all political Parties present and the Trust said it would be meet and expect a statement of position from them at a later date.

“If New Zealand had a “Three Strikes” law it would identify and remove the repeat violent offenders, past criminal history is the best predictor of the likelihood of future offending,” said Mr. McVicar.

“We need to remove the repeat violent offenders from our streets to prevent the escalation of tragedies being experienced by those at the conference this weekend.”


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