A "Tribute Wall," consisting of framed photographs of individuals and families who have been victims of crime, covers a wall in the conference room of the Anderson County district attorney's office.

Renee Moore, crime victims' coordinator for the Anderson County district attorney's office, said she oftentimes gazes into the eyes of the people depicted in those photographs, most typically after a particularly-difficult trial or a long day with no end in sight.

The "Wall" serves as somewhat of a reminder to Moore and other employees in the Anderson County district attorney's office who come in contact with crime victims virtually every day.

"If we start wondering why we're working so hard, why we're doing what we're doing, all we have to do is look at the Wall," said Moore, who has been in her position for the last six years.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week began today and continues through Saturday. Its purpose is to remember those who have suffered as a result of crime and honor those who have helped the victims.

Sometimes, crime victims feel they have no voice in the process. During trials, they are often relegated to the role of spectator, observing a system that may seem at times styled to protect the interests of the alleged offender.

"They get left out," Lowe said about victims of crime. "They kind of get shifted to the side...DAs, as a group, are more interested in these issues than they were 15 or 20 years ago."

In her role as the DA's crime victims' coordinator, Moore helps guide people through a sometimes complex and difficult-to-understand system, keeping them apprised of important hearing dates; the status of their case; and what to expect before and even during trial.

Sometimes during the process — which can include the emotional trauma of a criminal trial — Moore said she establishes a close relationship with the victims. As an example, she remains in telephone contact with family members of former Palestine school teacher Geraldine Davidson who was brutally murdered by a host of local youths in January 2000.

No one begins their day thinking they or a loved one will be a victim. Crime, however, touches all segments of society at one time or another without regard to physical, racial or socioeconomic characteristics.

"It can happen to anybody," Moore said. "There's no boundaries."

Partially due to more money being dedicated to homeland security, there is a possibility that the grant through the state attorney general's office which fully funds Moore's position could end next year. Her job is safe through Aug. 31, 2007, but beyond that things are sketchy.

If the grant money is taken away, affected counties such as Anderson County will have to decide how or whether to take up the slack and fund their crime victims' coordinator position.

"My fear is that smaller counties like ourselves — if the funding disappears — will be unable to hire a full-time person," Moore said.

The monies used to fund Moore's position and other similar posts are collected through a court cost assessed criminal defendants. Last year, Anderson County returned roughly $150,000 in such monies to the state, but received less in return, according to Lowe.

"It would be a real loss," Lowe said if the grant funding Moore's position is eliminated. "If we're collecting all this money from this county, we need to be getting it back. I don't think it's a fair allocation."

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