1997 Inductee - Diane Batres


1997 Inductee - Diane Batres

COMMUNITY SERVICE

An eight year old drowns while swimming…a madman massacres four on a playground…a wife is beaten by her husband…We all feel pity, but who comforts the survivors and the families of the victims? There was a need for a support system for victims and their families. Diane created and developed San Joaquin’s County Victim/Witness Assistance Program which has helped over 3,000 people every month since 1980. Diane was there to help at Cleveland School’s schoolyard massacre in 1989. The whole school was traumatized; she and her staff brought relief. Politicians such as Patrick Johnston and the mayor wrote her great letters of appreciation. The Stockton Record proclaimed, “Diane Batres and her staff deserve a standing ovation.”

The effects of the tragedy went beyond the campus and into the Asian community. Diane and others went there to comfort the families. Recent drowning of young Asian American children have had the same effect on the community and the Assistance Program has been there to help. In 1996 a father was stabbed by a burglar and died in front of his 9 year old daughter. His mother-in-law wrote the following: “They (the Assistance Program staff) were in constant contact with us, letting us know what was happening and what to expect next. They made arrangements to have my home cleaned, the carpeting removed and all evidence of the murder removed. They helped with the funeral arrangements and encouraged her (the daughter) to seek counseling. They were kind, caring, and sympathetic.”

The program won the Governor’s victims service award for outstanding contributions and services to crime victims in 1985. The program touches 3,200 people every month, by phoning or contacting victims and witnesses, by relaying simple information and offering human warmth at the most traumatic moments. The program also issues subpoenas thru the District attorney’s office, notifies witnesses of changes and make sure witnesses get to court. You probably know how hard jury duty is. Imagine the stress in being a witness to a violent crime.

Diane was also responsible for creating the state’s 1st Victim Mobile Crisis Unit, a 24-hour, county-wide crime scene response to law enforcement “in order to reduce initial trauma to victims.” Someone is available 24 hours each day to provide transportation for victims of assault to get to the hospital, home, police department, or to the women’s shelter.

The police are intent on finding the criminal and cannot concentrate on the victim of the crime. The mobile unit has focused on the victim. In one night it helped raped victims find new lodging because they didn’t feel safe in their own home and provided food and shelter for a woman stranded in Stockton. It intervened when a creditor tried to foreclose on a murder victim’s wife and when another victim had her car towed and was charged $400 for its return.

Why couldn’t this program do as well with another Director? “Diane Batres provides daily support and assistance to people of all ages who are victims of crime. Her persona embodies the kindness, sensitivity and compassion which are necessary in the healing of deep emotional wounds. Her strength and tenderness are rooted in her rich cultural traditions. She is a Latina medicine woman much needed in the field of law and justice.” States Margarita Wulftange in her nomination. Diane Batres has retired from her job as director of this important program and is enjoying her retirement with her husband Sal Batres.