The WERDCC National Crime Victims Rights Week Ceremony opened as visitors and staff were welcomed by Functional Unit Manager Bill Morgan. Lieutenant Robin Terrell offered the opening prayer.
Paula Fletcher, Restorative Justice/ICVC Coordinator, introduced “Rachet” and “Cricket,” two members of Biker’s Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) who shared what their organization does to assist victims of crimes. “Rachet” explained that B.A.C.A. is a non-profit organization that exists to provide aid, comfort, safety, and support for children who have been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. They are dedicated to the principle that one of the basic rights of childhood is to be safe and protected, and when the child’s family or environment have failed them, B.A.C.A. stands ready to provide it for them. “When a child goes to court, we are right there by their side. And when five big guys go in,” he said.
“With a child, it makes them feel safe.” “Rachet” shared that each child receives their own vest that they receive patches for, they choose their own biker name, and receive a B.A.C.A. Blanket. B.A.C.A. also provides for children in other area; They attend parole hearings with them, escort them to and from school or on errands if necessary, and many other ways to ensure that the children are free from fear.
Jacob Shellabarger, Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney, explained the courtroom process and that it is not as portrayed in the movies. He explained that when a child goes into the courtroom, the only persons present are the judge, jury members, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, court recorder, the victim, and the defendant. The courtroom is not open to spectators like depicted in the movies. He explained how he has enjoyed working with B.A.C.A.’s organization. Leigh Thomas, Audrain County Victims Advocate, talked about her position and how she handles many different cases and victims, about meeting the victims and their family, and how it can be very emotional. She also stated she has enjoyed working with B.A.C.A. and continues to maintain contact with the organization.
Paula Fletcher presented B.A.C.A. with a quilt made by WERDCC Restorative Justice Organization offenders.
She thanked everyone for attending and extended an invitation for guests to stay for refreshments. Other guests in attendance were Ken Chapman, ReEntry/Women Offender Program Manager; Kellie Ann Coats, Executive Director of Missouri Women’s Council; Lori Lewis, ReEntry Coordinator; Ralph Kuda, Mayor of Vandalia; Chris Hammann, Vandalia Chief of Police; and Darren Berry, Vandalia City Administrator.