Violent Crime Survivors Call For New Approach To Criminal Justice System

Survivors of violent crime gather in Sacramento

Around 700 people from across the state joined together in Sacramento last week for the annual National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and called for a new approach to criminal justice and public safety in California.

Over the last few years, California has attempted to reform its criminal justice system to alleviate overcrowding in state prisons. Several bills have passed the legislature and through voter initiatives that have rolled back sentencing guidelines and given judges more discretion when issuing sentences after federal judges placed a cap on the state's prison population. 

But, a growing victim's rights movement has begun to push for new alternatives to putting people in jail, including a greater investment in rehabilitation services and a total reevaluations of what it means to make a community safe from  crime while others long for a return to tougher sentences and fewer people out on parole. 

Anna Cho Fenley, the state director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice told the L.A. Times that it's an unprecedented time for survivors of violent crime right now. 

"We work to elevate the voices of those most harmed and least supported, young people, low-income communities, black and Latino communities," she said. "But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what side of the aisle you sit on, the one thing we all can agree is we want healing and safety."

Not all survivors agree on how to move forward. Some supporters are urging another ballot initiative that would roll back some of the previous voter measures like Proposition 47, and expand the list of crimes that are classified as violent felonies that determine which California prison inmates are eligible for early parole. 

Photo: Getty Images

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