September 3, 1979 forever changed the lives of Mike and Harriet Salarno. Their eldest daughter, Catina Rose Salarno, was senselessly murdered “execution style” at the University of the Pacific in Stockton on her first day of college when she was only 18 years old.
In the years following, the Salarno family endured the frustrating criminal justice system that tilted too heavily toward preserving criminal rights while barely addressing the rights and needs of victims and their families.
In 1982, Harriet co-chaired the Crime Victims Bill of Rights effort which established a historic turning point for victims of crime and set off a national wave of states enacting similar laws. Since then, Harriet has been instrumental in bringing change to various states’ criminal justice systems.
CRIME VICTIMS UNITED was born from Harriet’s passion to fix this problem and ensure no victims’ family would again experience the anguish of fighting their own criminal justice system.
Through Harriet’s leadership, Crime Victims United grew quickly and is today recognized as the Nation’s most trusted victims’ rights advocacy group.
In 2008, Harriet helped rally victims’ groups to assist in the passage of the Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment ballot measure. This measure added 17 specific victims and victims’ families’ rights into the California Constitution. This victory represented the first time any state constitution had specifically addressed and protected victims’ rights. Harriet has also spearheaded the multiple battles to save California’s death penalty from being abolished.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Harriet was appointed by former Governor Pete Wilson to the California Council on Criminal Justice, the State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention and the Commission on Judicial Performance. She was also appointed by former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan to the City’s Juvenile Justice Probation Commission.
Harriet has received many awards including the Doris Tate Governor’s Award, the California State Assembly “Woman of the Year” by Assemblyman John Burton, and also by Senator Cathleen Galagiane, the California Correctional Peace Officers’ Association John Wayne Award, the Golden Badge Foundations Victim’s Advocate Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by Crime Survivors Inc.
Harriet’s national leadership includes appearances on “Nightline” and “48 Hours” and as the subject of articles in Woman’s Day and Ladies Home Journal.
Harriet Salarno lives in the greater Sacramento area of California where she directs the staff and legal team at Crime Victims United’s national office.
She has also worked on several propositions in the state of California that call for protection of victims’ rights including:
We are rejoicing that in 2019 Steven Burns (C0\-20341), the murderer of our daughter and sister, was issued a 3-year denial of parole. We can’t thank you all enough for all the support, prayers and resources you have given us during this time. Justice will prevail.
Lance and Regina Novello
Nina Salarno and Jim Besselman, Jr.
CVU is dedicated to protecting the rights of victims of crime, their families and safety of their communities. In this time of COVID-19, CVU is providing the community with a virtual clinic, resources for coping and locating assistance. After making sure your families are safe and secure, please donate what you can to help us help others.