Over $1M set for Hidalgo County crime victim services

EDINBURG — The Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office will receive $1.4 million in grant money to continue essential services for crime victims.

Over the past six years, the DA’s Victim’s Unit has helped 62,712 victims of crime, provided services to 129,401 victims and has assisted in 10,089 protective order applications.

The DA’s office has received over $7.4 million in grants since 2015 to provide direct services to victims.

The grants have come from the Victims of Crime Act, the Violence Against Women Act; the Justice Assistance Grant and the Victim Coordinator and Liaison Grants; which were in turn distributed by the Office of the Texas Governor and the Office of the Texas Attorney General.

District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. has allocated these grants to establish the Domestic Violence Unit, Special Crimes Division & the Victims Unit for the county.

“These services have a huge impact in the restoration and healing for victims of crime,” Rodriguez said in a news release. “Our office could not do this work without the continued support and funding from the state and local officials. With nearly one million residents in the county of Hidalgo, these grants are vital to the healing of our community, and they will help us continue our mission to serve victims of crime with dignity, respect and compassion.”

Services provided to victims by the Victims Unit include: obtaining protective orders and developing a safety plan; providing crisis intervention and victim advocacy; providing victims with case notifications; giving victims an explanation of the criminal justice process and assisting victims in applying for compensation.

The office also offers post-sentence services in collaboration with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; helps victims submit a victim impact statement, which is the victim’s voice in the criminal justice system; assists victims with the restitution process; provides court accompaniment and gives victims referrals to community based programs for counseling, legal services, emergency shelter and other social services needed.

The DA’s office also spearheads many prevention awareness campaigns throughout the year to educate the public on victims’ rights, services available to victims of crime and social services available in the community.

“I would like to remind the residents of Hidalgo County that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and our office is here to help victims,” Rodriguez stated.

Domestic violence victims can contact the Victims Unit at (956) 292-7616, the Mujeres Unidas hotline at (800) 580-4879, or the National Domestic Violence hotline at (800) 799-7233.

“These hotlines are answered 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” Rodriguez stressed in the release.