North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Opinion

June 28, 2013

Steve Flowers: Victim-rights advocate going strong 30 years later

(Continued)

COMMENTARY —

I am not sure why Shehane chose me, whether it was because I represented Barbour County or the governor had chosen me as one of his floor leaders, but she approached me and asked that I introduce and handle one of her first VOCAL initiatives.

At that time, the criminal justice laws in Alabama allowed the criminal’s families to be in the courtroom during a trial. However, amazingly, the victim’s family could not be in the courtroom. We set out to right this wrong.

It is difficult to pass any legislation. Even a resolution honoring apple pie and motherhood takes jumping through hoops. However, I spent my entire freshman year working with Shehane to pass our bill rectifying this unfair situation. We were successful. We passed the act allowing crime victims or their families to not only be in the courtroom but they are now allowed to sit at the prosecutor’s table.

This is one of my proudest legislative accomplishments. As I write this column I am looking at a picture of me with Gov. Wallace signing this landmark act into law. That picture of 30 years ago adorns my wall. I see it every day.

Shehane has remained a close friend over the years. She is still director of VOCAL 30 years later. She is still fighting for victim’s rights in Alabama every day.

In January, VOCAL moved into a new building. Fittingly, it is named for Miriam’s daughter, Quenette.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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