As the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues in the United States, many of us are working remotely from home, facing quarantines or self-isolation, and encountering disruption to daily activities. With the Governor's Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order in effect, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (PAO) victim advocate team is adapting and responding to the needs and trauma of crime victims from across the county by practicing virtual advocacy through a new work from home system.
Their primary goal is to empower and inform victims of their rights under the law to facilitate informed participation in the criminal justice system. However, facilitating such a personal connection without face-to-face contact takes a great deal of thought and consideration.
Senior Advocate Stanley Phillips explained that the new process has been challenging, but his team is up and running. "We are adapting by using Zoom and Skype to meet with our clients, and are maintaining phone contact on a regular basis," Phillips said.
The PAO advocate team is also making every effort to ensure victim's rights are upheld. Victims are appearing telephonically or by video to make their voices heard, according to Senior Advocate, Kim Carroll.
"It's important to note that victims of domestic violence and child abuse are at heightened risk during this health crisis as stay at home orders and school and work closures isolate them even more from support systems. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, help is available," Carroll said.
Local resources are available at the Family Support Center of South Sound at (360) 754-9297 and SafePlace 24-hour help line (360) 754-6300. Additional information for victims can be found at the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office website at: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/pao/Pages/help-for-victimes.aspx.
With all the changes, the PAO is happy to report that the furriest member of the victim advocate team, Marshal the Courthouse Facility Dog, hasn't been left out of adjusting to working from home. He's been lending a paw remotely, Skyping and Zooming from a floor-level camera. His coworkers report that as the only member of the team who was allowed to nap on the job while in the office, he's adjusting to his new normal seamlessly.
In his downtime, Marshal has been practicing social distancing using Teams
to catch up with his canine pals, Maddy and Wiggins!