LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker offered the keynote address at the 27th Annual Michigan Crime Victims Vigil held Wednesday evening at the state Capitol. The event, co-hosted by state Sen. Steve Bieda and Attorney General Bill Schuette, is held annually during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The event, which was also attended by law enforcement agencies, victims services associations and organizations dedicated to bringing about an end to crime, provides an occasion for crime victims and victims’ families to gather and honor those who have suffered or were lost to crime.
In addition to Schuitmaker’s keynote, the event featured an awards presentation for those who advocate on behalf of crime victims. The vigil concluded with a candle lighting ceremony and the opportunity for family members to share memories of loved ones lost to crime.
Schuitmaker is a long-time participant and a previous co-host of the event and was honored to be selected as this year’s featured keynote speaker for the first time. She encouraged attendees to support each other and continue to advocate for victims’ rights.
“I have had the somber privilege to be a part of this event for a number of years,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Participating in the vigil for the past several years has been an honor and has given me a much greater appreciation for the pain that victims feel and the triumphs they have achieved.”
Schuitmaker on Wednesday also introduced Senate Resolution 39, which was unanimously adopted, to designate the week of April 19 – 25 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Michigan. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is being commemorated across the country with events focused on recognizing and supporting victims’ rights. With the implementation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act in 1985 and the passage of a constitutional amendment in 1988, the state of Michigan has adopted some of the nation’s most comprehensive laws to protect the rights of crime victims.
Despite the progress, Michigan reported thousands of new victims of crime last year, and research consistently indicates that less than half of all crimes are reported. Schuitmaker said that, while Michigan continues to make strides in reducing the crime rate, there are still far too many victims of crime.