The Vandalia Leader

Follow Us On:

NECC participates in National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2024 at 6:46 pm

By Stan Schwartz

Brianna Simons, institutional activities coordinator for the Northeast Correctional Center, helped coordinate the activities for the center’s celebration of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week last Thursday.

They held several events to help raise money for this cause. A silent auction took place a week before the event started.

During the ceremony, the staff presented a check for $950 to Amy Harrell, court special advocate with the Audrain County Crisis Intervention Services.

Simons took over the position of IAC earlier this year.

As part of the event’s program, the NECC chapter presidents of the facility’s various groups prepared statements to talk about what they have learned since being incarcerated. In addition to large sheets signed by the offenders hung at the front of the room, the workshop was filled with art and craft items made by hand by the men housed in the facility.

“We’re here today for the victims,” said Lana Byram “And what we can do to help them.”

She introduced Harrell and asked her to speak.

Harrell talked about the shelter the ACCIS runs for those who are fleeing domestic violence.

“We have a bigger outreach program,” she added. Last year they helped more than 575 women, men and children. They have only five people running the office, she noted, so they stay pretty busy.

Byram asked the chapter leaders present to come up to the front to deliver their prepared remarks.

The NECC chapter of the NAACP raised some of the funds in the check donated to ACCIS. The chapter’s vice president, Demetrius Merriweather, in addition to providing the funds for various groups including ACCIS, offered a sincere apology to and for all victims, and he looks forward to a future where there are no more victims.

The other organizations did the same; offering funds and thoughts about helping the victims of crime.

Villis Cross, the chapter president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Tommy Bell Memorial Chapter 833 and Associates, said the chapter was founded by offenders at NECC.

“It was the first offender organization (like this) here,” he said. They received their charter in 1999. The reason men there join such organizations, he noted, is so they can contribute to society in some way and make amends for their past digressions.

All of the profits from their sales go to help other groups, such as the USO, Honor Flight, Wounded Warrior Project, and Folds of Honor. He noted that they contribute to other charities as well, locally and throughout the state.

Cardrell Jones, president of the OOA, said his organization is dedicated to helping people who are on parole or probation and have just one more chance before they end up on the inside.

“We try to deter them from ending up in here,” he said. He was impressed with the week’s events and how the groups were asked, “How can we help?”

“This is the first time we’ve been offered the opportunity to give solutions on how to prevent this from happening,” he said.

He thought a lot about domestic violence and how its various aspects—physical and emotional—affect the victims.

He realized that by ending up in prison, he abused the relationship he had with his mother, by taking away from her the way she could be a mom to him.

“I didn’t see that until (I ended up here),” he said. He quoted another speech he had heard:

“Through the blindness of our ignorance, we have committed the ultimate terrorist act. In the absence of truth and understanding, we have abused, betrayed, abandoned, humiliated and at times hated love. And this love of which I speak was known through the image of a woman. The atrocities against the women we’ve encountered are our greatest transgressions against God.”

He said real men take accountability for their actions and correct their ways. He also apologized to every woman who suffered because of what he’s done.

After the speeches, the attendees were treated to punch and cake.