Pain to Power

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Calling Mississippi a pioneer in victims’ rights, Atty. Gen. Jim Hood spoke to law enforcement, state officials and victims Friday at the 2004 Victims of Violent Crime Conference. He says the Attorney General's Office is committed to making victims’ rights a priority.

"We will help victims in giving them compensation for expenses for people who have been murdered, all types of compensation as well as letting them know what’s going in the appeals process," Atty. Gen. Jim Hood said Friday.

Time, money and information that wasn't always available.

"We lived in a nice settled neighborhood. We thought it was safe, so I let her go by herself to the park. One evening she didn't come home and the next morning we found her, she had been brutally kidnapped and murdered," Carolyn Clayton describes the day her daughter was a victim of a violent crime.

Following the murder of her 18-year-old daughter in 1986, Clayton was shocked at rights awarded to offenders and not to victims.

"At that time, there was nothing on the books, no laws or legislation protecting victims’ rights and that made me angry, so I teamed up with people that could make a difference," Clayton said.

Now there is legislation on the books, money available to victims, and the Attorney General's Office has a division dedicated to inform victims in legal proceedings. Hood says he would like to see more victims’ advocates, working with, but now for his office.

"When you get an independent person, when you here things from someone like that you create a level of trust and a relationship," Hood said.

Attorney General Jim Hood, people like Carolyn Clayton and other victims want you to turn pain into power.