SB 481 (Durazo) – Oppose

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The Voice for Victims and Public Safety

May 27, 2021

The Honorable Maria Durazo
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 2032
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Senate Bill 481 (Durazo) – Opposition

Dear Senator Durazo:

Crime Victims United would like to lodge its strongest objection to Senate Bill 481.

Senate Bill 481 completely ignores the rights of crime victims and allows for some of the most heinous murderers in our cities to be released to commit violence against innocent Californians.

This bill allows the court to dismiss special circumstances that were committed by an adult murderer, age 25 or younger at the time of the murder or found true by a jury thereby avoiding a life sentence without the possibility of parole. This bill is biased against all crime victims. Instead of directing the court to consider all factors and providing the court with discretion this bill specifically only states factors that favor the dismissal of the special circumstance and requires the court to place greater weight on them.

Senate Bill 481 completely ignores the will of California’s voters. In 1990 the voters enacted Penal Code section 1385.1 which was part of Proposition 115 to prohibit the striking or dismissal of special circumstances admitted by a murderer or found true by a judge or jury. This bill would repeal the section and usurps the will of the voters.

Furthermore, this bill completely abandons the rights of crime victims in accordance with Article l , Section 28 of the California Constitution which clearly declares that the victims of crime are entitled to finality in their criminal case and that prolonged suffering of crime victims and their families due to the ongoing threat that the sentence of criminal wrongdoers will be reduced must come to an end. This is completely ignored by SB 481.

Adult offenders who have committed special circumstance murders are the most violent in our communities. They have committed murder in especially heinous ways including murdering multiple people; murder by explosives or by lying in wait; murder due to race, religion, or nationality; murder for financial gain; the murder of witnesses to prevent testimony; murder by torture; and murder of a juror. This bill would permit adult mass murderers and serial killers to be eligible for parole and thus jeopardizes the safety and security of all Californians.

For these reasons, Crime Victims United is strongly opposed to SB 481.

Harriet Salarno
Chair / Founder

Nina Salarno-Besselman