Derek Marchman Reflects On The Past Year During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week And Feels A Sense Of Urgency For The Future
CONYERS, GA–A year ago, with great anticipation, I was in Washington, DC, with my family to celebrate the crowning achievement of my passion and career pursuing the issue of victims’ rights. In the shadow of the Washington Monument on the National Mall, Attorney General Merrick Garland presented me with the 2022 Crime Victims’ Rights Award by the Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs.
President Ronald W. Reagan had created the award to honor the lifetime achievements of dedicated champions whose efforts to advance or enforce crime victims’ rights have benefited victims of crime at the state, tribal or national level. Leading up to the ceremony, I was able to reflect on the efforts of many who came before me over the past 30 years that resulted in the required expectation of standards for victims’ rights.
Kristina Rose, Director of OVC kindly observed, “Mr. Marchman has worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of crime victims through legislative advocacy that has yielded remarkable success and stamped his place on the victims’ rights field. His visionary thinking and innovative methods to improve victims’ lives have made him a stalwart victim advocate and a model of service.”
Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of OJP agreed by offering that, “Derek Marchman has helped shape the victim assistance field in Georgia and nationwide by expanding funding and services and strengthening rights for crime victims. His longstanding commitment to victims has made a difference in the lives of countless victims and survivors.”
A year later, these words and comments still ring true for me – to a degree. Since receiving the award, I have received wonderful messages of congratulations from friends and many associates from my early years. I was recognized by Marsy’s Law for Georgia with their Champion of Victims’ Rights Award, and they asked me to serve on their board. I was also selected to serve Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia’s Human Trafficking Task Force with a focus on education and public awareness. Lastly, in its magazine for alums, I was recognized by Georgia College and State University with an article highlighting my career titled, “Ultimate Honor.”
It has been wonderful to reflect on the successful initiatives, the wonderful people I’ve worked with and the realization of the progress that has been achieved. However, this recognition has not created a sense of complacency but instead has fueled my desire to get more done for victims and communities. My reflections have illuminated the gaps in basic services that still need awareness and newly identified areas of need with a sense of urgency.
An example of this is the struggle to access various criminal justice agencies to present the new information associated with the constitutional amendment for victims’ rights, known as Marsy’s Law. The irony is that agencies are not taking it as seriously as they did when the victims’ rights statute was enacted in the 1990s. I am amazed that basic victim services are not being reinforced and demanded. The issue may be that services are becoming so technical and the push to expand the diversity of services and populations are growing. This became a concern to me based on comments from new advocates being afraid to reach out for fear of offending someone.
With concerns still surfacing, I was asked what underlying issue frustrates victims the most. My answer was that while the courts will ensure the criminal defendant is represented, most believe the local prosecutor represents the victim — however, the prosecution represents the state because the crime was committed against the “state.” Under Marsy’s Law, a new avenue to pursue is having a third lawyer involved to ensure the victim’s rights are considered throughout the criminal justice process and beyond. I believe this is the future for victims.
In addition, a trending process that excites me is the Community Collaboration Response (CCR), which is attached to many grant initiatives. The process requires communities to bring a broader range of practitioners together to conduct mapping exercises to help identify potential service gaps and provide cross-collaboration training. These efforts will help ensure the implementation of special services with accountability measures. These genuine efforts go beyond putting on “band-aids” and work to go deeper to solve problems at the root of the issue.
When asked how I feel about the future regarding victim services, I am extremely hopeful with increased awareness, laws, and funding. The theme for this year’s National Victims’ Rights Week is “Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.” The theme is exactly how the movement needs to proceed. Advocates cannot rest on their laurels and become complacent. They must continue pushing to elevate services, engage all populations with specified needs and encourage all parties who can effect change. Achieving these goals will require community members and organizations to have honest conversations with open minds for potential solutions without territorial, fixed mindsets. I am committed to helping community programs with program development, grant writing, evaluating, and assisting with implementation and sustainability. I will always be available to train, teach and lecture on the needs of victims’ rights and how to ensure its availability in our communities.
To learn more about Derek Marchman, go to https://ovc.ojp.gov/gallery/award-recipients/2022/video/derek-marchman for his profile and tribute video. In addition, visit marchmanconsulting.com to learn more about his work.
Marchman Consulting helps communities make an impact with data analysis, grant development, implementation, and evaluation for sustainability efforts for a variety of programs. An example is the alcohol risk management (ARM) measures, such as Marchman’s award-winning RASS training program. Validation of his success, Marchman was the recipient of the Office of Victims of Crime 2022 Victims’ Rights Award presented by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on the Washington Mall. More information of his services is available at www.marchmanconsulting.com.