Press Release: New Crime Victim Voices

As the Nation Recognizes Crime Victims Week,

New Poll Shows California Victims Support Realignment, Rehabilitation

Tomorrow, New Group to Join Other Victims at the Capitol to Advocate Smarter Public Safety Policies

OAKLAND — April 22, 2013 — As the nation recognizes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, new data shows that California crime victims support – by a two-to-one margin – the state’s Public Safety Realignment law and believe the state should focus more on supervised probation and rehabilitation, rather than more incarceration.

Californians for Safety and Justice – a nonprofit working with crime victims and community stakeholders interested in improving public safety and saving tax dollars – commissioned the survey by David Binder Research earlier this month. 

Of the 500 crime victims surveyed in California, 65 percent support Public Safety Realignment, the much-scrutinized law that gives local counties, rather than state prisons, more responsibility for nonviolent, non-serious offenders. (The 2010 Census was used to ensure that the respondent pool was a representative sample of California demographics and geographies.)

“Realignment is a big shift in California’s approach to public safety; it puts much more emphasis on local justice systems and community supervision,” said Lenore Anderson, Director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “Some people have criticized this shift, but surveys of California crime victims tells another story: there is support for Realignment’s shift from state prisons to counties for non-serious offenses and the goal of reducing recidivism and justice system waste.” 

The survey also found only 23 percent of crime victims believe the state should focus more on sending people to jail and prison, whereas twice as many (50 percent) believe the focus should be on rehabilitation programs and probation.

“Victims and our families are often portrayed as people who only want tougher sentences and more prisons,” said Dionne Wilson, a member of Californians for Safety and Justice’s network of crime victims. In 2005, Dionne’s husband, a police officer in San Leandro, was shot and killed while on duty. “But like the rest of Californians, survivors of crime often understand that our justice system hasn’t worked. This poll shows that most victims want public policies that focus more on things like supervised probation and rehabilitation, not more prisons or jails, as ways to hold people accountable. That way we can invest more resources in victim recovery and preventing future crimes.”

The entire survey by Californians for Safety and Justice will be included in a full report on crime victims in California to be released in May 2013.

Sacramento Rally for Victims

Tomorrow, “Survivors for Safety and Justice” – Californians for Safety and Justice’s new crime victims program – will bring buses from around the state to Sacramento for the annual “Victims March on the Capitol,” which is often one of the Capitol’s largest rallies of the year and a major event for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 21-27). Members of Survivors for Safety and Justice will begin their activities at the rally at 11 a.m. on the capitol’s North Steps.

“The needs of many crime victims go unmet,” said Assemblymember Holly Mitchell. “High-crime communities are home to struggling survivors who want recovery and crime prevention brought in – not just a focus on punishment. Their voices call for a different approach to public safety that should be heard in Sacramento.”

About Californians for Safety and Justice

Californians for Safety and Justice, a project of the Tides Center, is a nonprofit bringing together crime victims, business and community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement, health professionals, educators and crime-prevention experts to replace prison and justice system waste with common sense solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Through collaborations, policy research and analysis, toolkits and trainings, and community engagement, we are working to build a justice system that improves public safety and health without draining resources from our schools, hospitals and other community needs. www.SafeandJust.org

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