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Good Samaritans Volunteers Helping Victims Program Handbook and Training Guide
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About This Guide Message From the Director Acknowledgments About the Authors Related Links
Photo: Man and woman looking out of a broken window.

Publication Date: April 2009

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minus iconVolunteers: Recruiting,
Screening, and Training

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minus iconModule 2: The Victim Experience
minus iconModule 3: Basic Skills for Volunteers
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Filling a Void—Origins of the Program

Replication Efforts

Begun with the endorsement and leadership of the District Attorney's Office, the program has evolved over several years of trial and error. Partners came and left, volunteer rolls rose and fell, and missions occasionally went adrift.

Despite these growing pains, Alabama and Mississippi now have three thriving programs with several more planned in Alabama and other states. Thousands of victims have received services, referrals, and support that they otherwise would not have had access to. Hundreds of volunteers in two states have received special training, developed insight into victim issues and the criminal justice system, and served their community.

Throughout the history of the Good Samaritans program, the Mobile County District Attorney's Office has promoted it nationally, bringing it to the 2005 National Organization for Victim Assistance conference and numerous state and regional workshops.

Such efforts have led to national recognition. In 2003, the program received the Volunteers of America's national Excellence in Human Services Award. In 2005, the federal Office for Victims of Crime designated the program as a Promising Practice and featured Good Samaritans in a DVD, Faith-Based Responses to Crime Victims, released in April 2008.

Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, Jr., has promoted the program to other prosecutors. The Good Samaritans program has been featured at national conferences for the National District Attorneys Association and was featured in a 2005 issue of the national magazine The Prosecutor. District attorneys from a number of states have expressed interest in replicating the program in their jurisdictions.

"As a prosecutor, I know that my 'customers' include all crime victims, not just the ones whose cases are solved and the perpetrators brought to trial," Tyson said. "I encourage all district attorneys to identify and support their own community's Good Samaritans, to reach out to all crime victims, pick them up, dust them off, and help put them back on the road to recovery."

Tyson cautions other district attorneys who are contemplating a Good Samaritans program that recruiting and retaining committed volunteers isn't easy or free. "You have to invest some staff time, and it's hard work pulling this off. If you have the resources, you may wish to contract with a volunteer center for professional volunteer recruiting and management.

"However you do it, the result of a program like this is that you create a cadre of involved citizens who know more and better ways to help police and prosecutors, who are more willing to serve on a jury or testify in court. By activating the community to take care of itself, you solve a lot of prosecution problems. I think that makes it well worth the effort."