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California senators, the attorney general and criminal reform advocates rallied in front of the state capitol Feb. 23 to gather support for their legislative reforms.

Sen. Connie Levya (D-Chino) argued for the passing of her bill, SB 299, which would lower the barrier for crime victims to gain compensation through the California Victim Compensation Board’s Restitution Fund.

The bill would change the definition of a crime, so that it would not matter whether a person is arrested, or charged for the act, and would increase the ways that a person can prove they are a victim of a crime, instead of relying on a police report.

“It says that if you were harmed, or if police violence was done unto you, you should have access to CALVCB, the California Victims Compensation Board,” Levya said. 

“Many times, CALVCB asks for a police report. So what do you think, if a police officer assaulted you or harmed you, you think that law will be in your favor? Probably not,” Levya said.

The bill passed the California Senate 32 ayes to six noes June 2. It was placed on the inactive file of the California Assembly Sept. 10, at the legislative session’s adjournment, but can be brought back for a vote later.

The California District Attorney’s Association had previously spoken out against the bill, arguing that it depletes resources for crime victims by allowing criminals shot by the police access to the funds.

“The bill ignores the reality that use of force by peace officers is most often lawful and justified – and certainly not criminal,” the CDAA said, according to a legislative analysis.

The rally was held by Californians for Safety and Justice, funded by the Tides Center.

“I am no expert on the criminal legal system. But I am an expert on its failure, and so are many of the people standing behind me today. Your tough-on-crime strategies did not give us justice or safety in our communities. Your systems did not not recognize black people as victims, and it traumatized the majority of victims no matter what race they are,” said Tinisch Hollins, the rally’s master of ceremonies and the executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice.

Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced), stumped for her SB 1268, introduced Feb. 18, which requires law enforcement to notify the immediate family of deceased minors of specific information relating to the investigation of the minor’s death. The law enforcement agency would have to provide the family with the case number of the investigation, a list of the minor’s personal effects, and a primary contact.

Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-East Bay) promoted a skeleton bill, SB 993, which states only that the legislature intends to enact legislation to “modernize and reform the California Victim Compensation Board to further serve the needs of victims.”

“We are committed to breaking down systemic barriers that have further harmed survivors because we know that access to trauma-informed care, to mental health services, to victim compensation, culturally competent care, language access, are all critical to the healing process,” said Rob Bonta, California attorney general.


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