SB 176 Press Release

Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Reduce Additional Trauma for Children Who Witness Crime

 

SB 176, Authored by Sen. Mitchell and Sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice, an Example of How Criminal Justice System Can Better Account for Needs of Victims 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 10, 2015

CONTACT: Mike Smith, Californians for Safety and Justice, 510-600-5542, mike@safeandjust.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown today signed into law a bill that establishes much-needed protections for children who testify in criminal court proceedings about witnessing a crime.

Senate Bill 176, authored by Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), will extend accommodations to children who witness crimes and testify in open court, including the use of two-way, closed-circuit television to receive child witness testimony; the provision of comfort items for the child; and using a physical partition between the child and the defendant. These accommodations had previously only been given to child witnesses who are the direct victims of an alleged crime.

The number of children called to testify in a variety of legal settings, from family court proceedings to serious criminal cases, has increased steadily since the 1990s, but the experience can be particularly traumatic for children who are still recovering from experiencing or witnessing the crime itself.

The following can be attributed to Lenore Anderson, Executive Director for Californians for Safety and Justice, the sponsor of the bill:

“The trauma that children experience during and after a crime has a lasting impact, affecting their relationships, mental health, and likelihood of future stability. The signing of SB 176 is important for survivors but also a charge to policymakers to explore how else we can integrate trauma-informed policies and practices in our justice system in order to help, not hinder, survivors recover from crime. We applaud Senator Mitchell for her leadership in passing this law in support of crime survivors and their families.”

 

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