Trump to appoint St. Pete native to head victims of crime office at DOJ

St. Petersburg native Darlene Hutchinson Biehl, photo used with permission

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – President Donald Trump is naming a well-known victims’ advocate who grew up in Pinellas County to head the office for victims of crime within the U.S. Department of Justice.

Trump this week announced his intent to appoint Darlene Hutchinson Biehl, who now lives in Alabama, to be the director of the office. She is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Hutchinson Biehl has been an advocate for victims for more than 20 years and has worked on legislation and state policies and working directly with victims’ families.

She was abducted at gunpoint by a stranger at age 20, but was able to escape her kidnapper on the second day of the ordeal.

Hutchinson Biehl is a chapter president for the Victims of Crime and Leniency. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Troy State University.

Hutchinson Biehl graduated from Keswick Christian High School in St. Petersburg. She told WFLA.com that she spent the first 18 years of her life in Pinellas County and still visits occasionally.

The State of Alabama Office of the Attorney General on Friday issued the following press release about Hutchinson Biehl-

(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Steve Marshall applauded President Donald Trump’s appointment of Alabama crime victims advocate Darlene Hutchinson Biehl as Director of the Office of Victims of Crime at the U.S. Justice Department.

“Darlene Hutchinson Biehl is well known as a tireless advocate for crime victims’ rights in Alabama and nationwide,” said Attorney General Marshall.  “She has an extensive background in fighting for those victimized by violent crime, ensuring they are given a voice in the criminal justice system.

“Over my 16 years as a prosecutor, I have worked closely with Darlene to protect the rights of crime victims and I know President Trump made the right choice in appointing her to lead the US DOJ Crime Victims Office.  In January, the Alabama District Attorneys Association unanimously passed a resolution supporting Darlene’s appointment as OVC director, as many of them have also worked closely with her across the state.  I look forward to continuing this partnership with Darlene to expand the rights of those targeted by violent crime.”

Hutchinson Biehl first became aware of the needs of victims and the inadequacies of the criminal justice system after a stranger kidnapped her at gunpoint from a post office at the age of 20. Blindfolded and bound, she escaped on the second day and led police to the offender, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape and served 20 years in prison.

Hutchinson Biehl offered the following comment on her presidential appointment.  “I am so incredibly honored to be chosen for this role and appreciate President Trump and Attorney General Sessions giving me this opportunity to serve. I have admired the work of OVC for many years and am eager to be a part of this team as we serve victims and the service providers who assist them. Over the past 20-plus years, I’ve gotten to know so many survivors and have witnessed their grief and frustrations. They have each left an imprint on me. I strive daily to make the system a bit more gentle for each survivor affected by violence. By empowering survivors with meaningful and enforceable rights and resources, and encouraging their participation in the justice system, we can hold offenders accountable and make our communities safer.”

The White House announcement noted Darlene Hutchinson Biehl’s strong record of crime victim advocacy spanning at least two decades:

“Ms. Hutchinson has been a crime victims’ advocate more than 20 years, working extensively on legislation and public policy, teaching at police academies, and accompanying victims of all types to court and parole hearings.  Ms. Hutchinson’s volunteerism includes 10 years with rape crisis centers in Montgomery, Alabama, and Collin County, Texas, as well as seven years as president of a victims’ support and advocacy group.  Simultaneously, Ms. Hutchinson worked 25 years in publishing, including eight years as the editor of law enforcement publications in Alabama, Washington, D.C., and Texas. Plus, she served nearly 6 years as the Communications and Media Director for the Dallas Bar Association.  She has received many awards for her dedication to empowering survivors and protecting their rights, while enhancing public safety.  Ms. Hutchinson has played a key role in the development of Alabama’s innovative victim notification system, as well as the passage and ratification of a Victims’ Constitutional Amendment in Alabama.  A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, Ms. Hutchinson holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Troy State University.”

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