Steve Doell, Crime Victims’ Advocate Receives National Honor

Crime Victims United’s Steve Doell honored with Victim Advocacy Award at National Crime Victims Law Institute Conference

By Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) honored Steve Doell, President of Crime Victims United (CVU), with the Victim Advocacy Award at its 9th Annual Crime Victim Law Conference, on June 10, 2010, in Portland. The NCVLI Victim Advocacy Award recognizes advocates who have dedicated their time working towards policy and systemic change in the criminal justice system. Steve Doell has two children, Scott and Lisa. On October 21, 1992, Steve’s daughter, Lisa was tragically murdered at the age of 12, by a violent juvenile who was a stranger to her. Because of this, Steve has been a crime victim’s advocate since 1994, lobbying for crime victims’ rights, criminal justice policy and public safety issues. Serving as the Executive Director of the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance (OAA), it is an honor and privilege to work with Steve Doell as an advocate for crime victims. As the former Sherman County District Attorney, I first met Steve in the summer of 2002, at the Oregon District Attorney’s 50th Anniversary Conference. He spoke as one of the key figures on Oregon’s criminal justice system. His speech inspired me to go forth and fight for the rights of crime victims. At this year’s NCVLI Conference, Steve‘s acceptance speech was no less moving. Steve’s passion and commitment silenced the room and brought tears to many eyes.

OAA Senior Policy Adviser, Doug Harcleroad, the former District Attorney of Lane County, and Steve Doell began advocating for crime victims at a time when crime victims had NO Constitutional rights in Oregon’s criminal justice system.

Today, crime victims have Oregon Constitutional rights and Oregon Statutory Rights. These rights have recently been made enforceable by law. “If I had to pick one person who did more than anyone else to make these rights a reality, it would be Steve Doell. Steve Doell has been a key player or THE key player in every significant accomplishment in the victims rights movement in Oregon in the last 15 years,” said Doug Harcleroad. It is impossible to disagree with Doug’s statement.

Steve Doell has served on several governmental committees and councils that include: the Governor’s Task Force on Juvenile Crime; Governor Kulongoski’s Public Safety Review Task Force; the Attorney General’s Task Force on Restitution for Crime Victims; the Advisory Committee to the Crime Victims Compliance Project; and the Advisory Committee to the local Project Safe Neighborhoods Federal program. He has been a member of the Director’s Advisory Council for the Oregon Youth Authority since its inception; a member of Parents of Murdered Children Portland Chapter; and Crime Victims United of Oregon.

Steve Doell was instrumental in the passage of Ballot Measures 10, 11 and 17 in 1994. Measures 10 and 11 involve minimum mandatory sentences for certain violent crimes and sex crimes. Measure 17 provides that inmates must be involved in work and on-the-job training programs while incarcerated. He was very closely involved with the passage of Measure 26, the constitutional foundation for public safety and sentencing laws in Oregon and Measure 40, Constitutional Crime Victims’ Rights. Both measures were on the ballot in 1996. Measure 40 was later thrown out by the Oregon State Supreme Court in 1998, based on the constitutionality of the presentation to the voters not the substance of the measure.

SteveDoell spearheaded the campaign that passed four Crime Victims’ Rights measures in the November 1999 special election to replace Measure 40. He led the NO campaign on Measure 94 in 2000; the repeal of Measure 11, which was defeated by a margin of 3 to 1 by Oregon voters.

In addition to ballot measures, Steve, representing CVU, has been successful in passing many laws and referrals through the legislature. Most notable of these are: The Oregon Child Abuse and Murder Statute; Jessica’s Law for Oregon; and The Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Statute that targets repeat drunken drivers.

He played a major role in the referral and passage of Measures 51 and 52 in May 2008, giving crime victims the right to judicial review when their constitutional rights are violated. In 2008-2009, he acted in concert with many stakeholders in the system to write and pass Senate Bill 233. Senate Bill 233 is the enabling legislation that sets the framework in which Measures 51 and 52 operates in the courts to protect the rights of crime victims in Oregon.

In 2009, Steve Doell was part of a team that created Oregon Crime Victims Law Center (OCVLC), a clinic for crime victims who have had their rights denied. Steve currently serves as Vice-President of the Board of Directors of OCVLC.

In accepting the NCVLI Award, Steve noted many people remark that he does crime victim advocacy because of Lisa’s murder. He said the reason he became involved was not just because she was murdered, it is also because of who Lisa was, and how she lived her life.

He spoke about Lisa, what she did during her short time on earth and of her aspirations.

He stated she had a keen sense of justice.

Steve Doell recalled Lisa going to the Anne Frank exhibit shortly before her death. Afterwards she talked about what she saw and discussed with her father. Steve said to her, “what happened was horrible. People do horrible things to other people and life is not fair.”

This wasn’t good enough for Lisa and she replied, “Dad that’s ridiculous. When these things happen, someone needs to stand up and do something about it. Someone needs to stop it.”

Steve’s closing comment was, “And so, from an angel’s lips to her father’s ears.”

I believe after listening to Steve’s acceptance remarks all of us better understand why he is a crime victim advocate and his passion for victims’ rights.

“I want to sincerely thank the National Crime Victims Law Institute for this award. I am humbled to receive it. No one in this world achieves anything worthwhile by themselves. I have had the privilege of working and associating with many great people over the years who have helped make this recognition a reality,” Steve Doell said in a statement for this article.

Tara Lawrence
Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance
Executive Director