TEDDY BEAR ROOMS & ADOPTIONS

We dedicate much of our time to establishing “teddy bear” rooms in District Attorneys’ and Child Protective Services’ offices throughout California — giving young victims and children of victims a safe haven during the long and often painful criminal justice process.

In addition to the teddy bear rooms, Crime Victims United also hosts small celebratory parties for children adopted through the the city and county of San Francisco. Each child receives a stuffed bear.

Crime Victims United offers the teddy bear programs to all state and county facilities and organizations.

MARSY'S LAW/PROP 9

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Marsy’s Law significantly expands the rights of victims in California. Under Marsy’s Law, the California Constitution article I, § 28, section (b) now provides victims with the following enumerated rights:

  • The rights to justice and due process
  • The right to notice of all proceedings
  • The right to be present whenever the defendant has the right to be present
  • The right to be heard –at critical stages of the criminal justice system –any time that a victim’s rights are at issue
  • The right to have victims’ safety considered before any release decisions are made
  • The right to know when an offender is being released, or escapes
  • The right to protect victims’ confidential records
  • The right to refuse submit to interrogation by a defendant or his lawyer before trial
  • The right to confer with the prosecutor
  • The right to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, and to be treated with fairness and respect
  • The right to restitution
  • The right to a speedy trial and to reasonable finality
  • The right to enforce these special rights in any court
  • The right of victims be informed of their Marsy rights –just as defendants are given their Miranda rights

To read Marsy’s law in full use the link provided below

http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2008/general/text-proposed-laws/text-of-propos…

CATINA ROSE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

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To apply for the scholarship, click here: Scholarship Criteria and Application.

The Catina Rose Memorial Scholarship was instituted in 2007. It is the only scholarship of its kind, not only benefiting young victims and survivors of violent crime but youth that have overcome significant obstacles in less than stable environments due to these awful crimes.

It is a terrible toll that is taken on children when violent crime strikes them or their families. Statics have shown that most will end up in a life of crime themselves. For some of these children, their opportunities are suddenly and violently removed from their lives if the family bread winner is unexpectedly struck down. For others, the victims themselves of unspeakable crimes, they struggle to put their lives back together and regain a sense of dignity. It is these young adults which have beaten the odds that we seek to encourage and reward.

In 2007 we were proud to award Dominique Cordero our first Catina Rose Scholarship. As a child of 6 Dominique was molested. She later went on to testify in court against her molester.

Since then, we have awarded a scholarship each year to young victims of crime. Some have endured witnessing the death of a parent, sexual assault by family members as well as strangers, an assault that left a young man blind and a young Iraq war veteran who returned home only to find his sister murdered and took on the challenge of adopting his young, orphaned nephew. Each year we are moved by these stories of strength and courage that these young adults exhibit. One year, upon presentation of the scholarship, one young woman, with tears in her eyes said, “I never knew so many people cared.”

Your support of the Crime Victims United Charitable Foundation’s Classic Cup Golf Tournament shows these young victims you do care. We operate on a donations only basis, and without the support of caring individuals such as you we would not be able to help these young adults and show them just how much people do care.

PAROLE HEARINGS

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The Board of Parole Hearings has unilaterally implemented a policy change that devastates victims’ rights. 

Under current law, when an inmate has a 3 year denial before the next parole hearing, they may petition the Board to advance the hearing date based on the inmate providing evidence that there has been a significant change in circumstance. 

This review is initiated by the inmate and an advanced date may or may not be granted based on the evidence presented. 

As of October 1, 2013, the Board of Parole Hearings has implemented a new policy that the BOARD themselves will be pulling all inmate files with 3 years after just one year and conducting a review for possible advancement.  This is being done without notice to the victims. 

Crime Victims United contends that this is a clear violation of Marsy’s Law and obliterates the very protections we fought so hard to establish. 

Crime Victims United has met with the Executive Director of the Board of Parole Hearings and has asked that this policy be stopped immediately.  To date this policy is still in effect. 

We ask that you would contact Governor Jerry Brown and ask him to immediately stop this policy of the Board initiating reviews as it is unfair to victims.  Please write to him at:  

The Honorable Jerry Brown California State Governor C/O State Capitol, Suite 1173 Sacramento, Ca  95814

For a sample letter {Click here

Please join with us as we continue to fight for victims’ rights.

IF YOU HAVE AN UPCOMING PAROLE HEARING:

Many recent changes at the Board of Parole Hearings have had very negative impacts on victims as Board releases are at a high and there seems to be a shift in the view of the Board that inmates are now the victims. Prisoner rights groups are even being given access to attend parole hearings!

To that end, it is exrememly important that victims assert their Marsy’s Law right for attorney representation at their parole hearings.  This in no way is a substitute for victims appearing for themselves and having their voices heard, nor does it compete with the District Attorneys when they are able to appear.  Rather, it compliments both, working side by side to both strengthen the victims voice and ensure public safety for all.

To find out about a parole hearing, you must let the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services know that you wish to be notified every time there is a parole hearing.  You will want to make sure your name and contact information are on correct and on file so that they will be able to notify you when a parole hearing is scheduled.  You can contact the CDCR Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Service Coordinator at 916-327-5933 or toll free at 1-877-256-6877 or email  ovssinet@cdcr.ca.gov

The Board of Parole Hearings is required by law to notify any victim of any crime committed by the inmate at least 90 days before a parole hearing ONLY if requested by the victim.

It is extremely important for you to attend the parole hearing in person.  It is important for the commissioners to hear the impact on the victim and put a face to the victim.

The hearing itself is usually before one Commissioner and one Deputy Commissioner.  The inmate may attend the hearing, however their attendance is at their own discretion. They have the right to decide whether they will attend right up to the start time of the hearing. The county where the crime was committed may send a DA or DA Advocate.  The victim or a representative for the victim (next of kin, spouse, parents, children or family friends) have the right to attend the parole hearing.  And as stated previously, under Marsy’s Law, the victim or next of kin now have the right to have an attorney present at the parole hearing to represent their interest.

We have seen several parole hearings in which there has been victims attorney representation and it has been successful in parole denials on all the hearings they have attended.  The District Attorneys that have appeared at these hearings have expressed their pleasure at having an attorney present as the victims attorney.

It is good to have an impact statement prepared.  The impact statement should speak from the heart and tell of how the crime has impacted your life even to this day.  You should also speak about how your life will be impacted if the inmate is released. No one may interrupt you during your impact statement.  Your statement should be short and focused.  The statement should only be 2 pages and 2 -5 minutes.  This is a new law under penal code section 3043 at it is highly advised that you take a copy of this code with you in the event the commissioners are not aware of the new code. Have extra copies of your statement available for the DA or your attorney to provide to the commissioners and inmate attorney.

The order for speaking at the hearing is:

  1. District Attorney (if present)
  2. Inmate Attorney (if present)
  3. Inmate (if present)
  4. Victim (if present)
  5. Victims Attorney (if present)

That the victim’s attorney is last to speak is key.  It allows the victims attorney to focus on lies and mistruths told by the inmate.  This has proven crucial in parole denials.  This District Attorneys have appreciated this as they are not allowed to speak again after the inmate.

After the Victims Attorney speaks, the commissioners will clear the room and deliberate.  This can take an hour or more.  When they are done, they will call everyone back into the room for their decision..

They can deny parole for 3, 5, 7, 10 or 15 years.  They will explain their decision whether it is a denial or a grant and it will be recorded and made into a transcript that the victim has a right to a copy of. If parole is denied, the inmate may file an appeal.  This process can take several months, however, if an appeal is granted, there will be a new hearing.  If parole is granted it must be reviewed by the Board of Parole Hearings and ultimately the Governor before an inmate may be released.  The inmate is kept in prison during this time.  The process can take up to 4 months.  You can write the Governor to ask him to deny the parole.  You can also ask other’s to write letters on your behalf to the Governor asking him to deny the parole.

You may also want to cc the Governor’s Legal Affairs Secretary.  The Governor’s contact info is found at http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact

If the victim chooses to retain an attorney, it is crucial the attorney is well versed in victims rights and Mary’s Law.  We have run into Parole Board Commissioners who are not familiar with Marsy’s Law and have tried to deny the victims attorney to speak. This is why it is crucial that the attorney have extensive knowledge of the las and is able to cite the law and rights the attorney and victim have. It is absolutely imperative that the attorney specialize in victims rights and Marsy’s Law.

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VICTIMS TO PERSONALLY APPEAR AT THE PAROLE HEARING. However, with this new victims right of attorney representation for victims at a paorle hearing, it does give the victim extra support.


ATTORNEYS SPECIALIZING IN PAROLE HEARINGS

The Law Office of Nina Salarno
130 Maple Street, Auburn, CA 95603
530-885-9584
Website: www.salarnolaw.com

Amy Terrible, Attorney at Law
210 S. Mooney Blvd. Ste. C; Visalia, Ca 93291
559-623-9696
Website: www.terriblelaw.com

Anthony Sarabia, Attorney at Law
3463 Tanglewood Ln; Rolling Hills Estates, Ca 90274-4131
310-377-5171
Website: www.calrestitution.com


PAROLE HEARING TRAVEL EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT

As of May 2010, OVSRS has funds available through a federal grant which allows for a travel voucher, up to $100, to a limited number of victims for costs associated with travel to parole hearings.

Costs covered under this voucher include lodging, meals, transportation and incidentals up to $100.00 total.

You will need to complete a Travel Expense Claim and an Oath of Allegiance & Declaration of Permission to Work form.  Some of the information you will need for these forms include:

  • Month/year of the hearing you went to.
  • Date of hearing – approximate time of hearing
  • Location of hearing – Prison name and city
  • Purpose of the trip – please write in To Attend a Parole Board Hearing for Inmate _____ with CDC Number______.
  • If you drove your car, your vehicle license number
  • The mileage rate is already a set rate of $0.500 cents.

You must submit original receipts with your forms so be sure and save your receipts.

More information and all the forms can be found at the Office of Victim Services webpage at:  http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/travel-voucher.html  or call (877)-256-6877 Extension 2 or Extension 3.