SALEM, OREGON—The Oregon Department of Justice is seeking input from communities impacted by inequity to help improve services and access to justice for crime victims and survivors. The third annual Community Conversations, which began June 2 and runs through July 30, are comprised of 21 online listening sessions focusing on the experiences of diverse communities.
A significant barrier identified by survivors and advocates is a lack of providers offering culturally responsive services to diverse communities. To address this gap, DOJ’s Crime Victim and Survivor Services Division (CVSSD) last year awarded DOJ’s first round of culturally specific Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants. The division has since awarded more than $5 million to 12 community-based organizations across Oregon.
In response, CVSSD is instituting a training program for leadership of all victim services programs funded by the DOJ. The summer-long training series will ensure the leaders at agencies who provide these crucial services have a better understanding of bias and the impact of racism, ableism, transphobia, and other systemic inequities on the communities they serve. Future training sessions will include all victim service agency staff, including, importantly, the direct service providers.
Community Conversations participants will also hear an update on the implementation of Oregon’s hate crime law. The law, passed by the 2019 Legislature, defined hate crimes and bias incidents in Oregon statute, instituted a Bias Response Program including a Bias Response Hotline (1-844-924-BIAS, dial 711 for Oregon Relay, online at StandAgainstHate.Oregon.gov), and set forth specific requirements for law enforcement officers who respond to reports of hate crimes and bias incidents.
Next month, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission will issue its annual report summarizing the Bias Response Hotline data, Oregon law enforcement hate crime data, and prosecution information, and will make recommendations on how the state can improve reporting and response to bias.
The Community Conversations are free and open to the public. Sessions run from 1-3 p.m. To join any future session, click this Zoom link or call 1-669-254-5252. Registration is required, but attendees may choose to participate anonymously.