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Advocates urge public to help ‘turn victims into survivors’
Hall County Solicitor General honored with Victims’ Rights Week Award
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Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard , right, is hugged by Amanda Batchelor Friday, April 13, 2018 as Woodard is honored with the Victims’ Rights Week Award during the Victims' Rights Week Ceremony at the Hall County Sheriff's Office. The annual event honors champions in advocating for expanded support and services to communities affected by crime. - photo by Scott Rogers

As stacks of cornflower bookmarks were disseminated, Janet Walden gave the crowd assembled Friday, April 13, at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office two challenges.

The first was to embrace the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week motto of “expand the circle, reach all victims.” The second was to volunteer and join these organizations to help crime victims.

“Help us turn these victims into survivors. Help us help each of them know that this thing that has happened to them is a piece of their life, but it doesn’t define them. Join them in the healing journey that’s ahead,” said Walden, who is the executive director of the Hall-Dawson Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard was honored with the Victims’ Rights Week Award.

“I recently have had an occasion to look back over my career and try to encapsulate the lessons I’ve learned and what it’s been about. And what was interesting to me was that I marked that time in people, in people who I served … I couldn’t remember the cases as much as I could remember the people,” Woodard said.

Through social media, she was struck looking at the lives of people she worked with and the triumphs they have had since.

“For years she has been on the forefront on domestic violence issues both locally and statewide,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said in a statement. “Her caring heart is evident in the work she does not only as Solicitor but in her service on various boards that are victim-centered. We in Hall are fortunate that she is our Solicitor.”

Looking toward the November election, Darragh mentioned the passage of Marsy’s Law, which is a constitutional amendment referendum regarding victims’ rights.

Such rights would include timely notice on court proceedings and the ability to be heard on matters dealing with the “release, plea or sentencing of the accused” among others, according to the Senate resolution.

“I urge your support in that referendum as it comes up on the ballot in November,” Darragh said.

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