A victim impact statement is a written or oral statement made as part of the judicial legal process, which allows crime victims the opportunity to speak during the sentencing of their attacker or at subsequent parole hearings. The victim impact statement was introduced in 1982 in the final report of the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, which recommended that “judges allow for, and give appropriate weight to, input at sentencing from victims of violent crime.” All 50 states now allow a victim impact statement at some phase of the sentencing process.
The purpose of the victim impact statement is to allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime. Many victims/survivors say that having the opportunity to make a victim impact statement can be a very important part of their healing journey, allowing them to write down and share what they have gone through.
The victim impact statement can be a written, or oral, detailed account of the emotional, physical and financial effects the crime has had on the victim or their family. Some required components of a victim impact statement include:
- A clear statement of the victim’s rights
- Statement of a victim’s physical or psychological injury and economic loss
- Any psychological services requests as a result of the offense
- Any change in personal welfare
- Familial request for notification of future parole hearings
MADD Victim Advocates are valuable resources to victims in helping them develop their own victim impact statements. Victim Advocates can provide victims of drunk and drugged driving crashes with the emotional support, guidance in writing their statement, as well as accompanying the victim in delivering their victim impact statement.
Click here to download MADD’s Victim Impact Statement Booklet for more information about the importance of the victim impact statement, as well as suggestions on how to write a victim impact statement. You can also contact the MADD Help Line at 1.877.MADD.HELP or 1.877.623.3435 to speak with someone immediately or to be connected with a local MADD Victim Advocate.
Walk Like MADD has been a tremendous success story for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Many people simply think about the money that’s raised… and that’s great. But Walk Like MADD is so much more than that.
In communities around the country, the Walk creates an opportunity for awareness and education. It brings victims together to share with and support each other. And most of all, it turns a tragedy into something positive.
I remember the first one we had in Branford, Connecticut. That’s where my son Dustin grew up. In 2004, at age 18, he was killed by a drunk, drugged, and underage driver. So, in 2010 at the first Walk in Brandford, Dustin was honored. His picture was on a banner that stretched high across Main Street. I was proud that, even in his death, his smile was still lighting up the town and having an impact for good.
If I remember correctly, that Walk raised more than $40,000. It raises more now… and there are many Walks around the country that raise more. There are many that raise less. But each dollar is of value and each dollar brings us closer to our ultimate goal – to end drunk driving.
I encourage each of you to find the Walk Like MADD event near you and be a part of the elimination of drunk driving!
By Carolyn VanBrocklin, Communications Coordinator, Disability.gov
You’ve been in a car crash caused by an impaired driver, and suddenly, you’re dealing with severe injuries. Headaches, loss of coordination or mobility, confusion or back pain – how do you begin to cope with a disabling injury, perhaps for the first time in your life?
A National Transportation Safety Board study found that in 2011, more than 173,000 people were injured in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver; 27,000 had life-altering injuries. While the report does not specify what is considered “life-altering,” some common injuries from car crashes include traumatic brain injury, back injuries or spinal cord injuries, all of which can lead to a permanent disability.
Beyond your initial recovery after a severe injury that causes a disability, you must now navigate a new world of transportation changes, work adjustments and more. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number and types of disability programs and services that are available nationwide. That’s why Disability.gov is a valuable resource, particularly for someone who is coping with a disability for the first time.
Disability.gov is the federal government website where people with disabilities and their families can find information on 10 key topics: benefits, civil rights, community life, education, emergency preparedness, employment, health, housing, technology and transportation. Essentially, the site is a huge directory of resources from government agencies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.
During your first visit to Disability.gov, use the “Guide Me” tool to find information, programs or services available in your state. Perhaps you need information on transportation accommodations in Tennessee or how to find healthcare services in California. This tool makes searching on the site easier by walking visitors through four steps:
- Step One: Choose an Audience. Do you have a disability or are you helping someone else?
- Step Two: Select a Topic. Do you want to learn how to apply for disability benefits or get help with home modifications?
- Step Three: Pick a State. Do you want to view resources from your community or another state?
- Step Four: Review Your Summary. Review your choices from the three previous steps and decide if you want to see your search results or start a new search.
Disability.gov also provides guides to information and resources to help visitors learn more about its 10 topic areas. Let’s focus on employment. Perhaps you’re wondering how you will return to work after your recovery or find a job in the future. Disability.gov’s Guide to Employment explains how to approach employment with a disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you have rights in the workplace from the job interview process to accommodations that can help you work better and more comfortably.
Another popular guide is Disability.gov’s Guide to Disability Benefits. Read this resource to learn whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, how to apply for benefits for your child, what to do if your claim is denied and more.
We invite you to share this information and visit Disability.gov to get started. You can also subscribe to email alerts and the Disability Connection newsletter or follow the site on Facebook, Twitter and Disability.Blog.
The MADD Help Line, 1-877-MADD-HELP, is available 24/7 for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes because of dedicated volunteers—volunteers like MADD’s new National President, Colleen Sheehey-Church.
Colleen started volunteering as a Help Line advocate nearly a year ago because she wanted to be more connected to those in need of support. When her son Dustin was killed in a crash 10 years ago, connecting with MADD was what helped her learn to cope with the grief. As a Help Line advocate, she helps victims and survivors understand that what they are feeling is normal – that they aren’t going crazy.
On the Help Line, Colleen has spent time serving not only victims, but also callers looking for advice about what to do when someone they know drives drunk. She has heard that fear in someone’s voice and has been able to provide the assistance needed over the phone.
Colleen says that there has never been a call she didn’t like, that the Help Line is not just a Help Line, but really a lifeline for the people who are calling. Despite her new role as National President, Colleen plans to continue volunteering for the Help Line.
By Maddi Romeo, a member of MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group
In the midst of the holidays, celebration can be daunting and unwelcome. The year my grandmother was killed, Thanksgiving and Christmas were quiet and stiff. We went through the motions—the presents, the Yule Log, the Christmas lunch. But we weren't kidding anyone, especially ourselves. Now, seven years later, we couldn't be more excited as we pull out my grandmother's decorations and the tales that go with them.
I've seen the impact of drunk driving during the holidays, not only in the Facebook postings of my MADD family, but in the eyes of my mother, father, and aunt. Seeing that pain makes me urge anyone who feels it to fight by celebrating the life of those they love. Christmas was happy once again when we were finally able to joke about my Nana and remember her as she would have wanted: happy. We pull out the wreaths she loved so dearly and watch the Christmas movies she enjoyed (behind closed eyelids) - through this we too are happy in the holidays.
So I suppose the moral of my little story is that it was really hard for us to understand that holidays after the crash weren't a memorial service to be filled with eulogies and teary eyes, but celebrations of life and, in our house, of the beautiful gift of the Son.
Time won't heal the wounds, which is why I want to take this tiny spotlight to ask once again for everyone to please be safe this holiday - don't drink and drive. There's no party worth the price of a crash. However, time does make you realize it is okay to be happy. So make those jokes about how somehow those socks always ended up in your stocking or how the turkey never comes out quite right because, in the end, I've learned that the greatest celebration of life is the continuation of living.