GREAT FALLS — When a family is affected by a violent crime, their lives are changed forever. One place this change is obvious is at the dinner table, where an empty place is a reminder of a lost loved one.
The Montana Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Victim Services team is bringing focus to this loss with a traveling exhibit called "Empty Place At The Table," which is on display this week at the Cascade County Courthouse.
The exhibit, which honors victims/survivors, can be seen on Wednesday, April 20, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and Thursday, April 21, from 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
It features place settings provided by victims and survivors of crime representing the loss of loved ones or some part of themselves as a result of a criminal act against them.
The exhibit includes place settings featuring personal items from victims and survivors of homicide, DUI/fatality, robbery, burglary, murdered and missing indigenous women, childhood sexual assault, and rape survivors.
Monica Huffman, a Victim Liaison, said the table also creates opportunities to talk to people about how the DOC can help.
"We try to talk to them about the services that we offer at the Department of Corrections for victims and then we try to talk about the programs that help victims heal that we offer through the Department of Corrections,” Huffman explained.
"The Department of Corrections recognizes the trauma of a crime does not end when there is a conviction," said Victim Services Program Manager Jamie Rogers in a news release. "' The Empty Place At The Table' exhibit honors victims, survivors and others in Montana. For those people experiencing trauma from crime, the tablescape is permanently changed. This exhibit is a visual reminder of the Department of Corrections' commitment to keep the voices, concerns, and needs of victims of crime present in their work every day."
After April 21, the display will be taken down to be featured in other parts of the state. Click here to visit the Crime Victims Assistance website.
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