Julie Heflin [email protected]
Marinelle Timmons, founder of the Victim Assistance Centre and SAFE Program, began her mission to bring about a change in the Criminal Justice System after her 18 year old son Curtis was killed by a drunk driver in 1981.
She committed to make a difference by founding the first Texas chapter of “Mother’s Against Drunk Driving” (MADD), in 1981. She accepted an appointment by the Governor to serve for two years on the “Governor’s Task Force on Traffic Safety”.
When the Texas Legislature met In 1983, Texas citizens saw the most sweeping change of drunk-driving laws in the history of the State. Drunk driving was no longer socially acceptable. Intoxication” was legally defined and strict penalties for driving under the influence were enacted.
Mrs. Timmons continued her campaign against drunk driving by being actively involved in the first countrywide “Project Graduation” and “Safe Ride Home” programs. By the fifth anniversary of her son’s death, Mrs. Timmons had addressed more than 10,000 people on the hazards of driving while drinking. MADD was receiving calls from victims of other types of crimes asking for assistance to meet their emotional, physical, informational and financial needs.
Consequently, she founded a second non-profit agency, the “Victims Assistance Centre” (VAC) 1986, to address the needs of innocent victims of all violent crimes. She was intent to find innovative ways to respond to unmet community needs without duplicating services and programs provided elsewhere.
An example of such an innovative approach is the bail bond stipulation that prohibits contact between a defendant and any witness or victim in their case. This stipulation was presented to Criminal Court Judges by VAC and was approved in 1993.
Mrs. Timmons also observed that standard visitation was granted by Family Courts, even in cases where such visitation could place a child or custodial parent at risk. To provide a safe and stress-free environment for visitation in these high-risk families, she developed SAFE Family Programs, projects of VAC.
With the support of Family Courts, the SAFE Supervised Visitation Program has grown from 1 visit site. Through 2014, SAFE has provided over 416,225 hours of supervision for over 78,406 children/parent visits under the supervision of trained staff and law enforcement. The SAFE Program has been visited by victim advocates from across the country for guidance in establishing a similar program in their community. The SAFE Programs also include a Monitored Exchange Program for families with standard visitation (to prevent contact between parents), and privately supervised visitation.
Mrs. Timmons has logged over 3,000 volunteer hours. She continues to develop new and innovative services and programs, i.e., collaborating with Victim Relief Ministries and Harris County Citizen’s Corp. to establish an emergency response and support team for criminal and/or terrorist incidents, and initiating an awareness and education campaign to promote the need to provide supervised exchange of children in all cases in which there is a Protective Order.
You don’t have to know Mrs. Timmons long to learn she has been married to her high school sweetheart, Boyd, for over 54 years and that she has four sons , and 14 grandchildren. We have only touched on the many accomplishments of a lady who has spent the last 50 years devoting her time and energy to providing information, assistance and guidance to innocent victims of violent crimes.
We believe Mrs. Timmons turned a terrible tragedy into a crusade for others and is continually dedicated to her mission.