Crime victims, advocates honored at Florida State Capitol

Awards given to six advocates

Florida capitol building
Florida capitol building

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Crime victims and advocates were honored Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee in honor of National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

Melissa Hill was stabbed 32 times by an ex-boyfriend in 2012. She doesn't consider herself a victim, but a 'surthriver'; a term she coined for a thriving survivor.

"When I opened my eyes, I knew God saved my life," Hill said. "There is life and love, and a wonderful life after abuse."

Awards were given to six victim advocates, including Orlando Police Chief John Mina, who was recognized by the attorney general for his actions responding to the Pulse Night Club shooting.

"Chief Mina was and remains the epitome of calm in chaos," Attorney General Pam Bondi said.

Carl Harms was honored for his work with victims in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville.

"My father was killed by two drunk drivers. Two separate drunk drivers 12 minutes apart," Harms said. "That was the moment that changed my life."

Wednesday's ceremony comes as the state’s Constitution Revision Commission considers a constitutional amendment to beef up victims rights in the state’s constitution. Honoree and victim advocate Julie Weintraub said those added protections would be a step in the right direction.

“We have to understand what the victims are going through and make sure that we don't put the burden on them," Weintraub said.

The victims' rights amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, is up for a final vote before the Constitution Revision Commission in a week. If approved for the ballot, it would need 60 percent voter approval in November.