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KDOC Director Audrey Cress honored for helping victims of crime

by KDOC News — last modified Apr 19, 2018 06:57 PM
Kansas Department of Corrections’ (KDOC) Office of Victim Services Director Audrey Cress was honored Thursday for her efforts on behalf of crime victims during the 21st Annual Crime Victims’ Rights Conference in Topeka.
KDOC Director Audrey Cress honored for helping victims of crime

KDOC Office of Victim Services Director Audrey Cress accepts an award Thursday for her work on behalf of crime victims during the 21st Annual Crime Victims’ Rights Conference.

Audrey Cress, who has led the KDOC’s victim services division since 2013, was named the conference’s Outstanding System-Based Advocate which recognizes a system-based victim advocate for outstanding work in improving the lives of victims of crime.

In accepting the award, Cress asked the KDOC victim services staff to stand and be recognized.

“These are amazing people who do incredible things on behalf of crime victims and pour a lot of heart into it,” said Cress to the crowd of several hundred attending the awards ceremony. “I’m really grateful for the things that I have learned from you all. Thank you.”

Cress also thanked her family who attended the ceremony including her grandmother.

“This makes my heart feel really full when I think about the things that we can do when we have that kind of support and when we’re working together,” said Cress before looking across the room filled with victim advocates, public safety officials and community service providers. “I’m so excited about moving forward and collaborating with you all because I know there’s a whole lot of work left to do.”

The two-day conference, hosted by Governor Jeff Colyer and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, was held as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week which runs from April 8 through April 14.

This year’s theme, “Expand the Circle, Reach All Victims” emphasizes the importance of inclusion in victim services and addresses how the crime victims field can better ensure that every crime victim has access to services and support; and how professionals, organizations and communities can work in tandem to reach all victims.

Schmidt cited Cress’ experience and leadership as reasons for her receiving the award.

Prior to joining the KDOC, Cress worked with SAFEHOME, a domestic abuse shelter in Johnson County, where she served as an education and prevention advocate. She also has worked for The Family Conservancy, providing Batterer Intervention Programming in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

Since joining the KDOC, Cress has nearly doubled the number of staff in the Office of Victim Services from 12 to 23 and raised more than $1.6 million in grant funding for the KDOC’s victim services work. Under Cress’ leadership, the KDOC began the state’s first Batterer Intervention Program (BIP) to be based in a correctional facility and hosted three BIP summits to strengthen collaboration geared toward increasing accountability and victim safety. The Office of Victim Services also implemented a domestic violence screening tool for inmates entering the KDOC’s custody. As a result, the KDOC has seen a 42 percent increase in the number of inmates self-identifying as having a history of domestic violence.

Additionally, Cress has served as a key facilitator for the Kansas Academy for Victim Assistance, as a trainer for organizations such as Improving Criminal Justice Response and a presenter for the National Institute of Corrections Post-Conviction Victim Services Network, the National Association of Victim Assistance in Corrections, the Association of Paroling Authorities International and the American Probation and Parole Association. Cress also has served as chair of the Governor’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board and as a member of the Kansas Attorney General Batterer Intervention Program Advisory Board. 

“It seems wherever we look when Audrey’s involved - amazing things happen,” Schmidt said. “We are proud to have you here.”

During the ceremony, Schmidt also recognized honorees in the categories of criminal justice, community, victim service organization and community-based advocacy. 

“It’s fair to say that you have done much to Expand the Circle and Reach All Victims,” he said. “Congratulations to the few who were recognized but thanks to the many - everybody here – who has done work for victims of crime in the past year and who will do so in the course of the next year. It’s important work.”


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