OKLAHOMA CITY – Prosecutors all over Oklahoma are celebrating 35 years of a bill and programs that ensure crime victims know the rights they have to be heard.
On Wednesday, dozens of Oklahoma prosecutors and crime victims came together to celebrate 35 years of the Victims Bill of Rights and Compensation Program.
"I lost so much in that one second, and I will never be the same," Gina Barry, the wife of former NewsChannel 4 sports director Bob Barry, Jr., shared at the event.
Just over a year ago, Gina received heartbreaking news.
"An illegal immigrant made an illegal U-turn and killed my husband. In one second, my life was changed forever,” Gina said.
Gina joins the thousands of crime victims trying to move on after a traumatic experience.
Elizabeth Smart is among those victims.
She was abducted in Utah in 2002, raped and held hostage for nine months.
"I just remember feeling so broken and so shattered. I felt like someone had come along with a sledge hammer and just smashed my soul into pieces,” Smart said.
"Victims have learned that, somewhere along the way, the system has lost track of the simple truth that it's supposed to be fair and protect those who obey the law while punishing those who break it,” said Mike Fields, District Attorney for District 4.
The bill aims to ensure crime victims know the rights they have to be heard.
"For example, being able to give a victim impact statement, they're very important. Most importantly, it gives a voice to the victim and the victim's family,” said Brooks Douglass, a former Oklahoma state senator.
Prosecutors said, even more needs to be done, like modernizing laws relating to victims of crime.
"Until the day comes, when every single victim of every single crime first receives the respect and dignity they deserve and then the services they need, our work will continue,” Fields said.
The Victims Bill of Rights and Compensation Program has helped 21,000 crime victims and awarded $91 million.