Category Archives: Recent Events (2017)

Sago Palm Re-Entry Center Tour

Sago Palms

As the Certified Rape Crisis Center for Palm Beach County, Victim Services is responsible for assisting inmates at the Sao Palm Re-Entry Center. To cooperate with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, (PREA – the first United States federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners), crisis responders took a tour of the prison and met with the warden.

What is Sago Palm Re-Entry Center?

Sago Palm Re-Entry Center is classified at the lowest custody level for a facility. Minimum security prisons or prison camps are comprised of non-secure dormitories which are routinely patrolled by correctional officers, it has it’s own group toilet and shower area adjacent to the sleeping quarters that contain double bunks and lockers. The prison has a single perimeter fence which is inspected on a regular basis, but has no armed watch towers or roving patrol. There is less supervision and control over inmates in the dormitories and less supervision of inmate movement within the prison than at any other custody level. Inmates assigned to minimum security prisons generally pose the least risk to public safety. The camp is considered the best situation to be in if you have to be incarcerated. Inmates must have less than 10 years on their sentence, be non-violent with a clear disciplinary history to qualify for camp designation. Long term inmates at higher security institutions within the system are incentivized to “work their way down” in the custody levels to be eligible for transfer to the camp.

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Homeless Coalition

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2017 Support Group Schedule

Support Groups

Palm Beach Post

In April, following the Ceremony in the Garden event for Victim Rights Week, the Palm Beach Post featured this article:

Crime victims recall pain, celebrate healing at remembrance

By Mike Stucka – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Ceremony 4

Posted: 1:44 p.m. Thursday, April 06, 2017


After a childhood of abuse was followed by a rape that battered most of her body, Bridgit Stoffer has accepted she’ll never be the person she was. But she still has hope, the Palm Beach State College art professor said at a Thursday ceremony for crime victims.

“Some days I feel completely broken and wonder if I’m worth fixing. I’m haunted by memories no one should have to think about, much less relive,” she said at the seventh Ceremony in the Garden. But she offered a thought: “If we believe tomorrow will be better, we can bear today.”

Later, she told a reporter, “I will always be changed. I don’t know that it will get better, but I can be better.” And from volunteer work, becoming an art professor and drafting her memoirs, Stoffer, 34, of Delray Beach is finding ways to better herself and rebuild her life.

Thursday’s annual event, part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, melded falling blossoms from trees at Mounts Botanical Garden just west of the city with the comfort of therapy dogs and guided relaxation lessons. Boxes of tissues were scattered among the audience of about 60.

A survivor of domestic violence who asked to be identified only as Christine from of southern Palm Beach County said, “My ex-husband was very very sick, and was dangerous,” when she sought help at a police station for herself and a child. People around her didn’t believe her story because her husband concealed his alcoholism.

“True strength is keeping it all together when everyone around you would understand if it all fell apart,” she said. She said she learned to take life day by day when she had to. Sometimes, it became hour by hour and even minute by minute.

Angela Johnson, whose son was gunned down in South Bay one morning as he walked his dog two years ago, realized she only talked about Harry Johnson, 35, if she was talking about his murder. She’d never thought of herself as a victim until someone referred her to Palm Beach County’s victim services department, which helped her.

“When I need to cry, I cry. But I choose to live,” said Johnson, whose voice broke as she described finding her son’s body at the crime scene. “… You are stronger than you think. You are stronger than you know.”

“Those messages can help other victims,” said Nicole Bishop, director of the county’s victim services department, which helps about 3,600 people a year.

“Some hope can come from sharing those stories,” she said.

The organization offers advocacy, therapy, support groups, help with restraining orders, and other services. People needing help can call a 24-hour hotline at (561) 833-7273.

Other local events in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week include a Walk For Victims’ Rights, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Currie Park, 2400 N. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. People can learn more at www.sa15.org online.

Florida IAFN President

Elections were recently held for the 2017 Florida International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) board. Elizabeth Marlow, RN, SANE-A, who serves as an on-call sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) for Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center was voted president-elect.

“I’m honored to be chosen among my peers for this position,” Elizabeth said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on as many activities as possible to further promote forensic nursing.” As a sexual assault forensic nurse, Elizabeth specializes in the education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of a victim who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

IAFN, which is divided into U.S. state chapters, is an international membership organization comprised of forensic nurses working around the world and other professionals who support and complement the work of forensic nursing. The chapter president-elect, in the absence or disability of the president, performs the duties and has the authority to exercise the powers of the FL IAFN president.

In preparing for her first Florida IAFN chapter meeting of 2017, Elizabeth will learn more about the responsibility and tasks of her new position and start planning the 2017 state conference. Topics expected to be addressed include skills verification, giving court testimony and peer review of the medical-forensic records.

As a SANE, Elizabeth collaborates with other disciplines in the community such as law enforcement, crime lab personnel, child protection,  attorneys, and directly with Palm Beach County Victim Services advocates, who all provide unique and compassionate, victim-centered services to sexual assault victims. Congratulations!

Elizabeth Marlow

Elizabeth Marlow, RN, SANE-A

Glades Family Fun Fest

The second annual Glades Family Fun Fest was held recently at Glades Pioneer Park in Belle Glade.

Victim advocates Chandra Cosby and Angeletta Sewell were there as representatives of Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center to provide information about services available to crime victims.

In keeping with Victim Services’ victim-centered approach and services, the advocates responded appropriately as they interacted with the diverse population together with other local agencies who also provided education and free resources to the community.

The Glades Family Fun Fest was a true, healthy success for all who attended. In addition to receiving important information, guests enjoyed free food, and a variety of free games and activities, music and dance, bounce houses, face-painting, rock climbing, and team sports.

Glades Family Fun Fest

Chandra Cosby and Angeletta Sewell at the Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center booth

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SAAM Activity 04/02/17

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Opening Ceremony 2017

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week continued with the Opening Ceremony Press Conference at the West Palm Beach Police Department on April 3, 2017.

Guest speakers included Adrienne Ellis, Chief Assistant Attorney at the Office of the State Attorney, 15th Judicial Circuit; Sarah Mooney, Chief of Police at the West Palm Beach Police Department; Jeri Muoio, Mayor of the City of West Palm Beach; Michael Gauger, Chief Deputy to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; Congresswoman Lois Frankel; and Supervisory Special Agent O’Neill of the FBI.

Opening 1

The victim testament was given by Sandi Cooper. She is the mother of a murdered young woman. She shared her experience with her loss, the trauma, her therapeutic support, and support from the criminal justice system.

The Officer of the Year was presented to Detective Brent Joseph of the Boynton Beach Police Department by Palm Beach County Victim Services.

Opening 2

This year, the FBI’s Victim Specialist presented two awards; one to a North Palm Beach Police Detective who assisted with a human trafficking case and the “FBI Special Agent of the Year” award to the FBI agent who worked on that case as well.

Opening 3

Out of the Shadows

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Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center joined Rescue Upstream and the Palm Beach State College Human Trafficking Committee on their Lake Worth campus to raise awareness.

The “Out of the Shadows” daytime event included presentations about human trafficking with an emphasis on the direct link of pornography with trafficking. Camera Hall, Survivor Action Team member and founder of Stolen People, gave a powerful spoken word performance of , “You are not forgotten”, depicting the invisibility of trafficking victims hidden in plain sight.

The evening segment provided a Human Trafficking documentary followed by discussion with the audience.

There was specific outreach to male survivors  by providing a speaker panel with Randy LaPierre,  Brent Berman, Psychotherapist, also Survivor Action Team members and Amy Schafer, PBCVS therapist.

Hispanic Guatemalan Outreach

Staff from diverse agencies spent Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 building trust & reaching out to 200 people in the Hispanic Guatemalan community at St. John Fisher Church.

hispanic-outreach

The event was held at the church after services with each agency representative visiting every table to provide information & awareness of the various services, to deepen connections & built stronger relationships.

Through small group discussions, the immigrant community received some face to face time in a congenial environment learning about services and their rights.  On hand to share information were Mayor Jeri Mouio, Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center, West Palm Beach Police Department, Center for Independent Living Options/CILO, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse/AVDA, El Sol, Catholic Charities, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Honorary Consul of Guatemala in Palm Beach County, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, Boys & Girls Club, Rybovich Yacht Builders & the West Palm Beach Police Dept. Explorers & Cadets.

There was food in abundance, toys for the children, some raffle prizes & most importantly, solid outreach achieved through one on one connections.