Crime Victims United of California Suing Governor for Violating ”Crime Victims Bill of Rights Act”
Prop. 9 prohibits the early release of inmates to reduce overcrowding, according to CVUC lawsuit
SACRAMENTO – Crime Victims United of California (CVUC) gathered today at Bill Bean Jr. Memorial Park – dedicated to a Sacramento police officer murdered by a parolee in 1999 – to announce a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SBX3 18), which among other state constitutional violations, authorized the early release of approximately 6,500 inmates to reduce overcrowding.
“It’s appalling that within just one year of Californian’s voting to give victims greater protections under our State’s Constitution, the governor is violating not one, but four of these new rights – all at the same time,” said CVUC Executive Board Member Nina Salarno Ashford. “What happened to ‘government’s first duty and highest obligation is public safety,’ governor?”
The lawsuit, which CVUC filed yesterday, cites three constitutional violations in addition to early release, including:
Providing day-for-day credits to inmates who have not earned these credits
Not considering the safety of the victims, victim’s family or general public before any parole or post-judgment release decision
Failing to provide adequate prisons for the protection of the public, despite the promised prison construction under AB 900 (2007)
CVUC is not alone in opposing the governor’s early release program, which has been widely criticized by law enforcement and state legislators alike.
“I can think of no positive outcome to releasing criminals en mass, without any parole supervision or support program, into our communities – especially when public safety agencies are already spread too thin as it is,” said Wayne Quint, President of the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations (CCLEA), who joined CVUC at their announcement. CCLEA represents 45 different law enforcement agencies and 80,000 peace officers across the state.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League also recently warned that the new law is “jeopardizing public safety with no perceivable financial benefit,” and Assemblyman Ted Lieu emphasized, “the dangers are real, not theoretical.”
Joining Salarno Ashford were Assemblymen Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Jim Nielsen (R-Yolo); Wayne Quint, President, California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations; John Lovell, California Police Chiefs Association (TENT); Yolo county District Attorney Jeff Reisig; Bill Miller, Vice President, Sacramento Deputy Sheriffs Association; Mark Tyndale, Vice President, Sacramento Police Officers Association; and CVUC Board Members Bill Bean, Sr. and Bilenda Harris-Ritter (also a former Board of Parole Hearings Commissioner).
“We raised our public safety concerns about this law during the legislative process – when this problem would have been easier and much less expensive to fix – but we were ignored,” said Salarno Ashford. “So now I’m afraid that a lawsuit is our only recourse to defend victims and all Californians against this dangerous and illegal new law.”
Crime Victims United of California is the only organization of its kind – using education, legislative advocacy and political action to enhance public safety and crime-reduction measures and strengthen the rights of crime victims.