January 29, 2016
Sarah Ohlsen, Denise Pena, and Anita Davis from DCJ's Crime Victims Services Unit

The Department of Community Justice’s own Denise Peña, manager of the Crime Victim Services Unit, was awarded the Voice for Justice Award by the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) on Jan. 27. The Voice for Justice Award recognizes individuals and organizations making outstanding contributions to ensuring our justice system honors victims’ voices.

The NCVLI chose Peña for her outstanding efforts in not only ensuring victims’ voices are heard, but promoting systemic change to improve justice for all victims.

Peña has previously worked as a victim advocate and as a Probation/Parole Officer (PPO) with DCJ’s Domestic Violence Unit.

In her acceptance speech, she stressed how important it is for criminal justice professionals to understand how difficult it is for victims to participate in the criminal justice system. She also expressed gratitude for her team at DCJ .

“I feel nothing but support from them…the work they do is so fantastic,” said Peña of her colleagues.

She also said she was thankful to be able to work in her chosen field. “It’s exciting to feel the progress of this victim services movement, and it’s even more exciting to actually be a part of it.”

The NCVLI is a nonprofit legal education and advocacy organization whose mission is to actively promote balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim centered legal advocacy, education and resource sharing.

The Voices for Justice Reception highlights the progress in protecting, enforcing and advancing victims’ rights, while celebrating Oregon’s leadership in this area.

The reception was held at the Portland Marriott in Downtown Portland and the Voice for Justice Award was presented by NCVLI Executive Director Meg Garvin. DCJ staff were present to cheer on Peña and her tremendous contributions to the department’s effort in advocating for the dignity and respect crime victims deserve.