Second Annual Clothesline Project ruled success
Every April since 1981, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), one of six program offices within the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice, has challenged our nation to confront and remove barriers to achieving justice for all victims of crime through the commemoration of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. OVC leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of NCVRW. Together, the Tunica County Sheriff's Office held its second annual Clothesline Project to celebrate the accomplishments of victims' rights movement and reflect on the progress as a nation for victims' rights on April 26 and 27, 2022 in Downtown Tunica, Mississippi.
It is far more than strings of nylon strung from post to post, with articles of knitted cotton clipped together by wooden pins, blowing in the breeze - weighted by wet paint. The Clothesline Project strives each year to be the safe space victims need to share their stories and experiences, in an often close-knit, reserved community. This year's project focused on the role communities play providing victims with the support they need to pursue justice and recovery. This event was able to bring the community together and publicly display the unified message, that despite the circumstances of victimization, we are all one team and one community.
In addition to the artwork, Tunica County Sheriff's Office members were onsite to hand out information regarding services available to victims, as well as share information about our numerous partners and resources. Tunica County Sheriff's Office was fortunate enough to have been one of 50 projects funded nationwide, after careful consideration of 240 applications based on its efforts to raise public awareness about crime victims' rights and services available in our community. Crime victimization is not limited to one specific population, but rather it is something that transcends people of all backgrounds and identities. While crime victims have legally protected rights, many different groups face significant barriers not only in accessing the resources they need and deserve, but also in reaching out.
Crime victims are family, friends, neighbors, and community members. While we can never truly understand the depth of their trauma and the impact on their lives, we can ensure that equitable, inclusive, culturally appropriate, and gender responsive services are available to help them. By enforcing victims' rights, expanding access to services, and upholding principles of equity and inclusivity for all, we can enable crime victims to find the justice they seek, in whatever form that might take. In a two-day event, we were able to engage the community and empower victims to establish a welcoming, compassionate, and supportive environment for all victims to share their stories. By the end of the event, our Clothesline was a powerful exhibit that paid tribute to victims and cast light on their behalf.
Tunica County Sheriff's Office would like to express its gratitude to its partners for their continued collaboration and their assistance in making this event a success. There is a myriad of reasons crime victims remain in the shadows, unwilling or afraid to come forward. We must listen to the members of these communities to find out what these underserved victims need and how we can help them find justice and healing. As we commemorate NCVRW and celebrate the achievements of the crime victims' rights movement, we also need to recognize that there is more to accomplish. We must make it a priority to ensure that all crime victims feel comfortable enough to come out from the shadows into the light and receive the respect and recognition they deserve.
OVC is charged by Congress to administer the Crime Victims Fund. This fund supports a broad array of programs and services that focus on helping victims in the immediate aftermath of crime and continuing to support them as they rebuild their lives. Funds are invested in Mississippi annually to enhance service providers' ability to support victims of crime in communities. Tunica County Sheriff's Office is fortunate to receive funding from grants from OVC that allow our agency to staff a Victims of Crime Advocate.
Sheriff K.C. Hamp, Sr. began his administration over the Tunica County Sheriff's Office in 2003 after pledging accountability and honesty to the people he serves. Since then, Sheriff Hamp has made it his mission to bring a better quality of life to the citizens of Tunica County. With this goal in mind, this office sought funding to expand its services to victims of crimes. The Tunica County Sheriff's Office began receiving funding in 2011, specifically for victim services. During that time, the project was established to better serve all victims of crimes with a special emphasis on domestic violence. The purpose of the VOCA funded Victims of Crime Advocate (VAC) is to advocate on behalf of victims and support and assist victims through the process once they become a victim of crime.
The role of this member of our staff is to provide services to victims by assisting individuals through the difficult time experienced when they become crime victims. Some of the types of victimization served are adult physical assault (aggravated/simple assault), adult sexual assault, adult sexually abused/assaulted as children, arson, bullying (verbal, cyber, physical), burglary, child physical abuse or neglect, child pornography, child sexual abuse/assault, domestic and/or family violence, elder abuse or neglect, human trafficking: sex, other vehicular victimization (hit and run, etc.), robbery, stalking/harassment, survivors of homicide, teen dating victimization, and terrorism (domestic/international).
The VAC assists victims with completing victim compensation, criminal justice support and advocacy, follow-up communication with victims via phone call, Zoom, or in-person, information and referral to available support/services, personal advocacy, safety planning, supervised visitations for contact between noncustodial parties and children, as well as transportation at no cost to victims.
These collaborations and strategic partnerships aid us to fulfill gaps in services, referral to services and resources, share information and resources, coordinate advocacy efforts, and improve operations. Tunica County Sheriff's Office collaborates with Region I Mental Health, Tunica County Community Development, Child Protective Services, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Safety, Child Advocacy Center, Tunica County Workforce Development, Tunica County 10 Point Coalition, Catholic Social Services, Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Maddox Foundation for Volunteers, MS Crisis Foundation, Marks Project, The Salvation Army, Diaper Bank of the Delta, Center for Violence Prevention, House of Grace, local religious groups, Tunica Boys and Girls Club, Tunica County School District, Healthy Families of MS, MSU Extension Services, USDA Rural Development, Mississippi Emergency Management/Tunica County Emergency Management, Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, Mississippi State Department of Health, and North Delta MS Planning and Development.