By Hannah Lester
The Victims of Crime and Leniency named Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes Alabama Prosecutor of the Year last week.
“Being named the VOCAL Prosecutor of the Year for the state of Alabama is unquestionably the highest honor of my 18 years as a prosecutor,” Hughes said in a press release. “There is no higher calling, no greater responsibility for a prosecutor than that of victim advocate.”
VOCAL additionally named Melissa Cupit, also of the Lee County District Attorney’s office, Alabama Victim Service Officer of the Year.
“Being able to serve victims and their families during the most difficult time in their life has been such an honor and a privilege,” she said. “Their worries and their concerns become my worries and my concerns. To be able, however small, to help ease their pain is my life’s passion. I have made some lifelong friendships with these families, and that is my true accolade. I am honored to receive this award not on behalf of myself, but on behalf of every crime victim and their families.”
VOCAL was established in 1982 to serve as a crime victim advocacy organization.
“Somewhere along the way, victim’s rights across the nation, for all practical purposes were non-existent,” the organization’s website said. “The same system that victims expected to protect them was hampered due to the aggressive efforts to ensure the rights of the offenders were protected.”
The website said that the organization does not seek to remove rights from the offender but provide for the victim.
“On my first day as Lee County’s District Attorney I told the office that we were going to be a victim centered DA’s office,” Hughes said. “I wanted them to understand that the cases we prosecuted belong to the crime victims and their families and we were merely to be good stewards of those cases. No one is more effected by crime than the victim and their loved ones and it’s so important that we as prosecutors always remember that.”
“The greatest validation a prosecutor can receive is when a crime victim or their family says, ‘Thank you.’ As I accept this award on their behalf, I take this opportunity to tell them ‘Thank you’ for the impact each of them has had on me.”