Victims can find assistance at 15th Circuit Court offices
Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 16, 2019
Victims of a crime often are not aware there is someone they can turn to who can help guide them through the judicial system as they seek justice for the wrongs committed against them.
That service is provided to Pearl River County residents through the auspices of the offices of 15th District Attorney Hal Kittrell.
And, those who face those situations in this county they can turn to Anita Sumrall, who is in contact with victims on a daily basis.
She serves as a victim services specialist for the Victims’ Assistance Program.
“I will usually make contact with crime victims, especially those of violent crimes, as soon as we receive a file from law enforcement,” Sumrall said. “We give referrals for counseling and mental health issues and I am the point of contact for victims of violent crimes throughout the entire criminal justice process.”
She helps victims to keep up with court dates and also advises them of the victims’ compensation program.
“That is a program through the Attorney General’s Office for victims of violent crimes,” Sumrall said. “For instance, in a homicide case it could help reimburse families for medical or funeral expenses they might have.”
She added that the program also aids victims of assaults or domestic violence with expenses incurred from those situations.
“I am really busy most of the time,” she said. “Not only do I work with victims of violent crime, I work with victims which may have been burglarized or robbed. I work with individuals through property or financial crimes as well. I also work with the cities if someone has shoplifted or issues like that to help them through the process to get restitution when things have been stolen and not recovered.”
The 15th Circuit Court of Mississippi covers five counties: Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion and Pearl River.
Sumrall estimates 42 percent of the caseload in that office is derived from Pearl River County.
“Probably 40 percent of that caseload in the county involves crimes that would have a victim and that’s just a guess,” she said, noting that many cases are for drug violations and thereby registered as “victimless” crimes and do not cross her desk.
In her estimation, the large caseload from this county is probably due to the county’s population.
“Lamar and Pearl River have the largest populations, and although not proven, it might be our proximity to the state line,” she said. “People come back and forth across the state line and move relatively quickly within the state across a highly populated area.”
Sumrall has been in her position since 2014, and says it is a position she sought because she has “always had a heart for people.”
“I feel like if I can help somebody get through something, I’ve fulfilled my purpose,” she said.