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Report: California Crime Victims' Voices
Who are crime victims in California? How does crime impact them and their thinking? What are their unmet needs – and experience with victim services? We explore these questions and more in a report that includes the first survey data from California crime victims. Read the report.
Click here for our press release on the report and its key findings, some of which are summarized below.
Why the Report?
Historically, there has been a lack of data on who California’s crime victims are, what they need to recover from crime and their opinions about our state’s justice priorities.
To begin filling this gap, we commissioned the first-ever survey of California crime victims. In April 2013, David Binder Research polled more than 2,600 Californians who were broadly representative of California’s population with respect to race, ethnicity, age and gender.
Of those, 500 identified as having been a victim of crime in the last five years, and these respondents answered 61 questions regarding their experiences and perspectives. This report describes the findings of this survey and points to opportunities for further research and reforms to improve victim recovery.
Among the findings, it may be surprising to some that California victims – even when profoundly impacted by their experience with crime – overwhelmingly favor a system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
Survey findings reflect a different perspective than commonly understood about the views of California crime victims. These views are not always reflected accurately in the media or around state policy tables.
The following are some of the key findings:
- One in five Californians has been a victim of crime in the last five years. Half of these acknowledge being a victim of a violent crime.
- Two in three victims have been victims of multiple crimes in the past five years. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to have been victims of three or more crimes in the past five years.
- Victims of violent crime are more likely to be low-income, young (especially under 30), and Latino or African American.
- Two in three crime victims report experiencing anxiety, stress, and difficulty with sleeping, relationships or work. Half of these felt that it takes more than six months to recover from these experiences.
- Four of the five services available to crime victims tested – including assistance with accessing victims’ compensation and navigating the criminal justice process – were unknown to the majority of victims. Of those who had used the services, nearly half found them difficult to access.
- When asked about California’s rates of incarceration, more victims say that we send “too many” people to prison than “too few.”
- Victims want a focus on supervised probation and rehabilitation by a two-to-one margin over prisons and jails.
- Victims prefer investments in mental health and drug treatments by a three-to-one margin over incarceration.
- Three in four victims believe that prisons either make inmates better at committing crimes or have no impact at all. Only a small minority believes that prisons rehabilitate people.
- Sixty-five percent of victims support Governor Brown’s Public Safety Realignment law that, in 2011, shifted responsibility and funding for people convicted of nonviolent, non-serious offenses from the state to counties.