MOUNT VERNON — The workings of the justice system can be perplexing, frustrating and intimidating. And that is from the perspective of the victim of a violent crime, one of the people the system is supposed to be working for.
But there is help available from the Victim Assistance Program. In Knox County, that program is run out of the county prosecutor’s office by Diana Oswalt, who has been in the post for almost 11 years. The Knox County office has existed since 1997.
The program helps the prosecutor’s office provide the assistance a victim needs to get through the whole legal process, said County Prosecutor John Thatcher.
“She has training and skills that lawyers often don’t have,” he said, describing how she provides support for victims through the legal process, interprets legal proceedings and language for them and sometimes, just provides the person a victim needs to talk to.
Oswalt said her job starts with every felony case that goes through the prosecutor’s office and the grand jury. She also serves as a victim advocate for juvenile and Municipal Court.
She’s looking for “people to connect with that I can help.”
The one set of violent crimes she does not deal with is the category of domestic violence. Those, which generally come as cases through Mount Vernon Municipal Court, are handled by the New Directions Domestic Abuse Shelter.
Initially, Oswalt will send out brochures on the state’s Victims of Crime Compensation Program, including a form to fill out and send in, and a brochure about the local program. She also provides a copy of “Picking up the Pieces,” a brochure from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office that provides information about victim rights and guidance through the criminal justice system.