SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of crime survivors from across California came to the capitol to advance important safety priorities, as a new report showed crime victims remain underserved and support reforms that reduce incarceration. The report, California Crime Survivors Speak, was released at the beginning of Survivors Speak California, a two-day event during National Crime Victims' Rights Week that brings hundreds of crime victims to the California capitol to speak to their state government leaders.
Crime survivors came to the capitol with a message of support for justice reform in the state, urging that the state continue moving forward in setting new safety priorities. They urged removing barriers for victims to access services and investing in efforts that help end the cycle of crime, including prevention and rehabilitation. The report laid bare realities that demonstrate the need for the safety priorities that survivors came to the capitol to advance.
The report "found that…strong majorities of California crime survivors support changes to the justice system that would increase rehabilitation and reduce mandated sentences. The majority of crime survivors believe we rely too heavily on incarceration and want policymakers to invest in new safety priorities that better protect victims and help them recover from the crimes committed against them."
According to the report, only 14 percent of California crime victims felt very supported by the criminal justice system after they experienced a crime. By a nearly five-to-one margin, crime victims say prison either makes it more likely someone will commit crimes or has no public safety impact at all.
Other key findings from the report include:
- More than eight out of ten victims want people with mental illness placed in mental health courts, mental health treatment and other alternatives to traditional criminal courts and jails;
- By a two-to-one margin, victims prefer judges be authorized to determine the length of sentence most appropriate for people convicted of violent or serious crime, instead of mandatory sentences;
- More than eight out of ten victims support using 10 percent of the state's $12 billion prisons budget to fund mental health and substance abuse treatment as well as trauma recovery services;
- Seventy-five percent of victims favor reducing sentence lengths by 20 percent for those not serving life sentences, and using the resulting savings to fund treatment and rehabilitation;
- Seventy-six percent of victims support placing people with less than two years remaining on their prison sentence into halfway houses with reentry support to help them prepare for release.
Survivors Speak California 2019 includes a Monday address from Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and culminates with a Tuesday rally at the state Capitol with nearly 700 crime survivors. This is the sixth of the annual event in California, hosted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national network of over 25,000 crime survivors from states across the country that started in California. This is the first year that Survivors Speak has occurred in five states – Texas, Ohio, Florida, California, and Illinois.
A copy of the California Crime Survivors Speak report is available online here.
"We know from the voices of diverse crime survivors that, historically, the public policy conversations about community safety and crime victims have been misguided," said Lenore Anderson, Co-Founder of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and President of Californians for Safety and Justice. "While incarceration has been touted in the name of victims, when you actually listen to survivors, they make clear that excessive incarceration is not what they want or need. It's time we listen to survivors to ensure they get what they need and help influence policies that can make our communities safer."
Tinisch Hollins, California State Director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, stated: "Crime victims want investments in what actually stops the cycle of crime and meets their needs that continue to go unaddressed by retribution-focused policies. We want trauma recovery services, investments in our communities that can prevent crime, and access to services that help survivors heal. Most of all, we don't want anyone else to become a crime victim or face repeat victimization. We only can achieve that when diverse survivors' experiences influence public policies. We must continue to abandon the failed mass incarceration policies that harm the same communities disproportionately hurt by crime and violence and perpetuate cycles of crime."
SOURCE Californians for Safety and Justice