Victim/ Witness Services
The Victim Witness Program has been an integral part of the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office since 1981. During the past 30 years, the Victim Witness Program has helped thousands of Kenosha area victims and witnesses and improved the quality of communication between citizens, law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
The mission of the Victim Witness Program:
- To ensure that people affected by crime are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
- To help victims exercise their rights and access services.
- To provide financial assistance to victims and to the programs that serve them.
- To advocate for public policy and resources to enhance and expand victim’s rights and services.
- To provide information to the public policymakers and professionals about issues affecting crime in Kenosha County.
- To educate, train and provide technical assistance to local law enforcement and area service providers assisting victims of crime.
- November 1, 1980 - Wisconsin enacted Chapter 950, Wisconsin Statutes, "Rights of Victims and Witnesses of Crime" (L. 1979 C 217)
- August 4, 1981 – Kenosha County Board of Supervisors adopt Resolution creating Kenosha County’s first Victim Witness Program. Lynn Copen becomes the first coordinator of the Program and continued until her untimely death in 2003.
- April 1993 – Wisconsin enacts Victim Rights Amendment to State Constitution (Article I, Section 9m, Wisconsin Constitution 1993 JR2).This was the nation’s first "Bill of Rights" for victims and witnesses of crime. Throughout the years, Wisconsin has continued to lead the nation by providing victims with special rights.
- March 26, 2012 – Federal Victims Rights Amendment On March 26, 2012, the 112th Congress HJ Res. 106 introduced a proposed 28th Victim Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Amendment was referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The Amendment reads in part: "The rights of a crime victim to fairness, respect and dignity being capable of protection without denying the constitutional rights of the accused, should not be denied or abridged by the Untied States or any State.
- April 26, 2012 – New legislation (2011 Wisconsin Act 283, 211 AB 132) Most recently, Wisconsin enhanced the rights of victims by giving victims the right not to have their personal identifying information misused by third parties and providing relief if their rights are violated
The Victim Witness Program continues to explore innovative and efficient ways to enhance victim services.
- In 2011, the County Executive in cooperation with the County Board of Supervisors, provided victims and witnesses with a secure in-courthouse waiting room
- 24/7 on call assistance to law enforcement
- Direct link (hotline) to victim specialist
- In May 2012, the State of Wisconsin in cooperation with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department introduced the Wisconsin VINElink notification program. The Wisconsin VINElink program provides release and custody information about offenders in county jails to subscribing victims. Notifications about the program will be sent to all victims. In 2002, a study by the National Institute of Justice found that only 60% of victims were notified when defendants are sentenced and only 40% were notified of the defendant’s pre-trial release.
This Victim/ Witness program strives is to ensure that all victims and witnesses of crime are treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity and that the rights afforded victims and witnesses are honored and protected by law enforcement, prosecutors and judges in a manner no less vigorous than the protections afforded criminal defendants.