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Advocates call on lawmakers to expand employment, housing protections for victims of violent crimes




COLUMBUS, Ohio — MARCH 15: Landress Luckey of Toledo holds up a picture of her daughter Laura Luckey at a gathering of crime survivors and families of crime victims from across Ohio at the Survivors Speak Ohio press conference and vigil with elected officials, March 15, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

Landress Luckey held up two photos Wednesday morning in the Ohio Statehouse atrium — one was of her daughter Laura Luckey and the other was Laura’s friend. Both young women had died from violence.

Luckey was standing alongside six other women clutching tea light candles in front of a couple hundred people as part of the annual Survivors Speak Ohio event. Many people wiped their eyes while holding a candle, which represented crime survivors and victims of a violent crime.

“I lit my candle for all survivors of parents who have lost their child to violence,” Luckey, of Toledo, said.

The other women on the podium lit their candles in honor of various groups of people: those who lost children to gun violence, survivors of childhood sexual assault and abuse, survivors of sexual assault, survivors of human trafficking, and survivors of domestic violence.

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national network of crime survivors, organized the event, and speakers called lawmakers to expand employment and housing protections for victims after a violent crime. There are currently no bills related to either of these issues in legislation.

State Rep. Tavia Galonski, D-Akron, speaks to crime survivors and families of crime victims from across Ohio gathered for the Survivors Speak Ohio press conference and vigil, March 15, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

“We all need a safer Ohio,” said state Rep. Tavia Galonski, D-Akron. “Employment and housing protection from survivors can bring a level of stability to people’s lives so they can properly heal, mourn their loved ones and guarantee their own safety.”

Haleigh Young, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and human trafficking, expressed her desire to see employment and housing protections in the Buckeye State.

“Ohio can do more to ensure that survivors have access and are eligible for unemployment benefits after being the victim of a violent crime,” Young said. “They can ensure that when employees are hospitalized or seeking treatment after being the victim of a violent crime that they are not at risk of being evicted and they have a home to come home to when they are done with that.”

At least 23 states have laws that ensure survivors can take limited unpaid time off of work after a violent crime and at least 27 states have laws that allow survivors to break their lease early after a violent crime without having financial consequences, Young said.

“These laws allow people to get the help and the services they need and to be safe when they are trying to recover,” she said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 36 into law in 2021 which reduces barriers to the state’s victim compensation program. The law went into effect March 2.

Trauma Recovery Centers

Ohio has eight trauma recovery centers, but the centers are near major cities — leaving parts of the state with no trauma centers.

“There’s lots of other regions in Ohio that need those spaces as well,” said Elisa Bradley, from Lima. “So eight is great, but more is needed.”

The eight trauma recovery centers are —

Galonski and other advocates said they hope the state can get more money for trauma recovery centers.

“We need more funding to sustain existing trauma recovery centers and to establish more in our communities here in Ohio to help ourselves and our families heal and recover from violence,” said Dyesha Darby, a crime survivor and Ohio Statewide Manager for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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