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Division Overview and Mission Statement

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Overview

 

Beginning in Fall 2000, the Department of Corrections established the Division of Victim Services (DVS). The primary function of the DVS is to notify victims prior to an inmate's release. This office also provides referral services to victims with specific needs, such as counseling support groups, information about the Crime Victim Compensation Program, crisis intervention, and other services. The DVS was created to serve the public and to answer questions  and concerns regarding victims’ rights. The phone number is (601) 359-5628. The toll free number is 1-866-522-4087. Please do not hesitate to contact the program office for any services in this area. 

 

Mission Statement

 

To develop policies, procedures and victim service programs to include training on victim sensitivity and staff victimization. This office is devoted to assisting victims in the criminal justice process and developing and directing the implementation of  a consistent victim notification program throughout the criminal justice process.

 

Goals

 
Goal A
To ensure that victims are treated with respect and dignity by all MDOC personnel.
Goal B
To ensure victims are provided with accurate information in the most expedient manner possible.
Goal C
To ensure victims are aware of their rights in the criminal justice process regarding notification.
Goal D
To ensure that MDOC personnel are trained in victim sensitivity issues
Goal  E
To collaborate with victim service providers and coalitions throughout Mississippi.
Goal F
To develop a staff victimization and crisis response program for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Goal G
To provide opportunities for the greatest possible access and use of volunteers within the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
 

Crime Victims' Rights

 

The DVS is in a position to help victims invoke their crime victims' rights as they relate  to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/mscode/  and the  Mississippi Constitution detail these rights of crime victims. The DVS has developed an informational brochure and a registration form for crime victims to invoke their rights through the DVS.

 

To participate in the program, crime victims must register with the DVS. Since the passage of the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, crime victims are notified of their rights; however, the crime victim must invoke these rights and keep the agency updated on change of address and telephone numbers.

 

The Mississippi Department of Corrections understands that not all crime victims are made aware of their rights. Through networking, public awareness campaigns and the like,  the Department has taken the task of informing victims of their rights with the Department. The DVS provides the victim with a registration form when requested by the victim. The victim must complete the registration form and send it to the DVS.  Once registered, the DVS is required to provide the notifications. Crime victims are not  automatically  registered. Only those who register with the DVS shall receive the mandated notifications.

 

The DVS provides an opportunity to better serve crime victims by focusing not only on the notifications and opportunity for input, but to look at the system as the victim does.  The DVS is dedicated to providing crime victims with a continuum of service throughout the post sentencing process. Our efforts since the establishment of the office have been primarily directed toward streamlining the process of notification and providing consistency in services to crime victims          

 

Toll-Free Services Line

 

The DVS offers a toll-free line for victims’ use to answer questions concerning status, eligibility, location of inmate and all other information deemed public information.  Victims are allowed to update addresses, request information concerning how to protest  an inmate’s release and inquire about special conditions imposed upon parole.   Any questions a victim asks concerning the criminal justice system, victim services staff will attempt to answer. The toll-free line is 1-866-522-4087 and answered during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

 

Viewing Executions

 

The Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections may permit two members of the victim’s immediate family, if they so request, to witness the execution of the offender.

 

Any close relative of a victim that desires to view an execution must make their request through the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The close relative is also responsible for notifying the Department of any change in their address or telephone number.  Victims that desire to view an execution or have questions should contact the Mississippi Department of Corrections at the address on the bottom of this page.

 

Prison Tours

 

Many victims and the general public have differing, and often erroneous, perceptions about what the conditions are throughout the Mississippi corrections system.  The media often portrays the inmates’ life in a social context, quite different  from real life. Many believe offenders are living a life of some ease. The reality is that inmates are provided basic care required by standards, laws and court orders.

 

The DVS is able to assist victims and their families with accurate information  about crime victims’ rights; provide technical assistance to victim service providers;  and when conducting training, stress not only what is mandated by law, but also  victim sensitivity.

 

The Mississippi Department of Corrections has learned that including victims in its decision-making process is not problematic and has had a positive effect.  The Department also learned that having a DVS provides wardens and staff a  referral resource so their time can be spent better on matters of security and operation of the institutions. The victim services staff are trained to handle inquiries, calls, letters and special requests.

 

For more information, contact:
Victim Services Director
Mississippi Department of Corrections
633 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
601.359.5628
866.522.4087
fax 601.359.5719
victimservices@mdoc.state.ms.us