Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker receives award from the Michigan Sheriffs Association

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker receives award from the Michigan Sheriffs Association

LANSING— State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker will be presented with a Special Advocate award from the Michigan Sheriff’s Association on Saturday for her work on behalf of crime victims.

At their 2012 Victim Services Continuing Education Conference in Traverse City, the Sheriffs recognized Schuitmaker for her work in the legislature strengthening protections for victims and shedding light on the challenges they face.

Last year, Sen. Schuitmaker sponsored legislation expanding fees paid by convicted criminals that support the Crime Victims’ Rights Fund.  The fund, established in 1985, provides victims of crimes with money for basic needs in the aftermath of a crime. Schuitmaker’s bills were signed into law in December.

“It is an honor to be recognized by such an outstanding group,” said Schuitmaker.  “I am simply one small part of a team that has labored for so many years to make sure victims receive the respect and dignity they deserve.”

April 22 – 28 was recognized as National Crime Victims’ Rights week.  Events across the country sought to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by victims and their families. Schuitmaker sponsored Senate Resolution 141, which recognized Crime Victims’ Rights week in Michigan. 

Schuitmaker also hosted the Michigan Crime Victim Foundation’s Twenty-First Annual Awareness & Recognition Program at the state Capitol this past Wednesday.  The event was an opportunity for victims and those who have lost loved ones to gather in remembrance and share memories. 

“It was incredibly moving to see the Capitol rotunda illuminated by candles and to think about what those candles represented,” Schuitmaker said.

Michigan families reported more than 500,000 new victims of crime in 2010 alone, and research consistently indicates that less than half of all crimes are reported.