By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office had to go to the state Legislature to receive funding for a victim’s advocate position in Roosevelt County. It only had to stay in the office to find the person to fill the position.
Lory Adams, formerly an administrative assistant in the Roosevelt County’s 9th Judicial District Office, is the county’s first victim’s advocate.
Adams, who has lived in Portales for nine years, will act as a liaison to the attorneys in the district throughout the legal process. The biggest difference is that she’ll be able to arrive faster than the three Clovis-based victim’s advocates already employed by the district.
“It can be a very stressful time for a victim, especially in the case of a sexual assault where they are waiting at the hospital,” Adams said. “They’re apprehensive anyway and that 30 minutes can make all the difference to them.”
The advocate is an important part of the justice system, District Attorney Matt Chandler said.
“The prosecutor works hand in hand with the victim’s advocate from start to finish,” Chandler said. “Many times, the victim’s advocate knows about the case before the prosecutor does.
“They’re our response team to initial contact. The last thing we want to do is victimize this person twice. We want them to have a comfortable atmosphere at all times when they’re discussing their case. We want the criminal justice part to be as comfortable as possible for them.”
Adams said she was originally approached about the position by Chandler’s predecessor Brett Carter, who lobbied for the funding to the Legislature last year.
“We’d been asking for new positions in the D.A. office for years,” Carter said. “Now that the state’s giving more attention to the rights of the victim … we thought that this was the best time to ask.”
Carter said the funding to pay Adams’ salary and benefits, about $30,000, was available as of June. However, he didn’t want to hire an advocate during his lame-duck status after Chandler defeated Carter in the primary election.
“I thought Lory was the most appropriate person for the job, but I told (Chandler) I would leave the hiring decision to him,” Carter said. Chandler ran unopposed in the general election, and Carter has since taken over at the public defender’s office.
Adams just finished a week-long training session in Artesia, her third such session of the year. She is hoping she can use that education to help the victims.
“I would like to see a little more public education about the services available to victims,” Adams said. “The criminal justice system can be very confusing to somebody who’s never had to deal with it before. I think the more initial contact you have … is better, and I’d like for the victims to know all of the services available.”
Adams said that in many domestic abuse cases, the victim often recants their story before trial comes up. She feels with the proper education about services available to victims, future incidents can be prevented instead of hidden.
“The goal is not to break up relationships or put people in jail,” Adams said. “The point is to get these people help and counseling so it doesn’t happen again.”