Early Release

Contact:  Kelli Reid                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                   916-447-8186           July 22, 2009

Victims Speak out against Early Release Plan — “It’s going
to get someone killed”

“I can show you a list of common-sense budget cuts totaling more than
$2 Billion… instead legislators want to release 27,000 inmates — that’s crazy.”

SACRAMENTO — Victims from across the state expressed their outrage upon learning of a new “secret” component of Monday night’s long overdue state budget deal, which according to media reports would release 27,000 inmates from state prison, and change some serious crimes from “felonies” to “misdemeanors” making it harder to sentence criminals to prison.

            “This Legislature has had months — even years — to identify reasonable cost-savings in the Department of Corrections. In fact, I can show you a list of common-sense budget cuts totaling more than $2 biIlion that the legislature could enact right now, but they’ve refused,” said Nina Salarno Ashford, Crime Victims United board member and Northern California attorney. “Instead, some legislators would rather release 27,000 inmates — I’m sorry, but that’s crazy.”

            “We realize that these are tough economic times and that cuts are being made everywhere, but public safety must be a top priority,” said Patricia Wenskunas, Founder/CEO of Crime Survivors, Inc. “This isn’t an instance of having no other options except to release inmates — they’ve got two billion other options, and they’re just thumbing their nose at them. I don’t know what political game they’re playing, but it’s going to get someone killed. I just hope it isn’t your family, or mine.”

            “I want to know who raised his or her hand and said, ‘Hey, I know we’ve got tons of bureaucratic bloat we really should cut, but let’s let dangerous felons out instead,” asked Bilenda Harris-Ritter, Parents of Murdered Children National Trustee and director of a local crime victims legal clinic funded through

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the National Crime Victims Law Institute. “Especially at a time when county sheriffs are warning us they’re going to have to reduce deputy patrols and even close down jails. What are we going to do, bring in the National Guard to protect us?” 

            “We elect our state representatives to be our voice in Sacramento, to keep our communities safe, and our infrastructure functioning efficiently and effectively,” said LaWanda Hawkins, Founder/CEO of Justice for Murdered Children based in Southern California. “Anyone who supports this irresponsible plan is failing to do their job. And they should be fired. 

            Founded in 1992, Crime Victims United of California was the first organization of its kind, using education, legislative advocacy and political action to give victims a voice.

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