WASHINGTON (ABP) – A former state senator-turned-filmmaker was honored April 8 by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for pioneering legislation for the rights of crime victims.
Brooks Douglass, currently touring the country with his feature film, Heaven’s Rain, which tells his life story, was named recipient of the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award: honoring his work to change state legislation on behalf of crime victims.
“As an Oklahoma state senator, Mr. Douglas authored and worked to pass numerous crime rights’ bills and laws, including the Oklahoma Victims’ Bill of Rights, which dramatically changed the state criminal justice system,” according to a Justice Department press release . “He also worked to pass laws regulating rights to restitution; confidentiality of victim information; rights of victims to attend all court proceedings; rights to be informed of case status; and right of victims to attend the execution of their loved one’s convicted killer.”
The presentation of awards to a total of seven people and three organizations was prelude to National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 10-16. This year’s theme — “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past” — highlights the importance of crime victims’ rights and recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate a commitment to this effort.
Observances around the country will include screenings of Heaven’s Rain, a true story of Douglass’ own experience as a crime victim and how it led him to college and law school in order to advocate for victims’ rights.
Douglass and his sister were critically wounded and their parents murdered in a home-invasion in Oklahoma in 1979. After leaving politics he decided to become a screenwriter. His first movie tells the story of his childhood as a missionary kid in Brazil and the effect of the crime on the rest of his life, culminating with his decision to forgive the murderers.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.