Students assist in Victim’s Rights Week
Published 9:18 am Monday, April 21, 2014
The solemn confines of the courtroom is often an intimidating visage for adults, let alone for the children who are called upon the court to testify.
However, a group of area elementary school students have done their part to help make the experience a little more comfortable for their peers, creating a series of drawings depicting their interpretation of a court visit.
“When a child comes into court, it’s a scary thing,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “They need something to show them what the system is about and what they’re about to go through.”
Fitz and his office helped coordinate the creation of this booklet of drawings, entitled “Going to Court,” as part of National Crime Victim’s Week, which took place earlier this month.
The prosecutor was present at the meeting of the Cass County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, where he announced the winner and finalists whose work will be featured in this year’s booklet, with the board personally handing congratulatory plaques to the children.
“Just today, we had a young girl come into court,” Fitz said. “She had to testify, in a pretty intimating matter. The chance that she had to look at this book, to help calm her down and prepare her for court, you young ladies and you young gentlemen helped in that regard.”
The finalists in this year’s contest were:
• Mikale Starkey (Kincheloe Elementary)
• Khloie Goins (Kincheloe Elementary)
• Malina Holz (Kincheloe Elementary)
• Kenya Lee (Kincheloe Elementary)
• Abigail Seal (Edwardsburg Elementary)
• Chelsea Ziesmer (Edwardsburg Elementary)
• Brylan Bushong (Edwardsburg Elementary)
• Mackenzie Fraschetti (Edwardsburg Elementary)
• Layni Heuring (Marcellus Elementary)
• Isabella Smetane (Marcellus Elementary)
• Mackenzie Schuur (Marcellus Elementary)
• Jacob Adams (Marcellus Elementary)
• Brynn Bowen (Marcellus Elementary)
• Lacey Cope (Patrick Hamilton Elementary)
• Grace Schell (Patrick Hamilton Elementary)
• Makayla Hill (Patrick Hamilton Elementary)
• Allissa Curtis (Patrick Hamilton Elementary)
• Olivia Morales (Patrick Hamilton Elementary)
Starkey’s drawing was used on the cover of the booklet, which will be used by the office throughout the rest of the year, Fitz said.
This is the sixth year that the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office has sponsored the book cover contest during crime victim’s week. The theme of this year’s week was “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice.”
“In Michigan, our constitution, at the very beginning, says that government is constituted for the protection of the public as its primary purpose,” Fitz said. “But it wasn’t until 30 years ago that we had rights for victims.”
Among the rights Fitz referred to were the ability for victims to give statements during the sentencing of their offenders, or the ability to work with coordinator to understand the complexities of the legal system, he said.
Other business conducted by the board on Thursday included:
• Passage of a resolution announcing the county’s support of HB 5215, a Michigan bill that pertains to the collection of property tax for disabled veterans.
• Passage of a resolution announcing the county’s opposition to SB 636, a Michigan bill that would allow for telephone providers to discontinue local landline exchange service by Jan. 1, 2017.