Hundreds of crime survivors will rally for new safety priorities and hold vigils to honor lost loved ones in cities across California Saturday to mark the end of National Crime Victims Rights Week.
Part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justices annual Survivors Speak National Day of Action, the events will include crime survivors sharing their stories, honoring loved ones with a powerful and emotional healing circle and calling on policymakers to implement new safety solutions that prioritize crime prevention, stopping the cycle of crime and making communities safer.
Our nation is in the midst of an important conversation about the best approaches to safety and justice, said Aswad Thomas, managing director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national network of tens of thousands of crime survivors that was founded in California six years ago. Now is the time to listen to the voices of crime survivors, who are calling for a justice system that is focused on stopping the cycle of crime by prioritizing crime prevention programs, rehabilitation and trauma recovery.
Events will take place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, San Bernardino, San Diego, Stockton and Sacramento, and will each feature police leaders and elected officials from the local communities who stand in solidarity with survivors and their calls for a justice system that isnt just focused on punishment and locking people up. The San Francisco event, for example, at the Old Skool Caf, 1429 Mendell Street in San Francisco, will include San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton, San Francisco Police Captain Valerie Matthews from the Bayview Station, San Francisco Police Sergeant Yulanda Williams who is a leader of Officers for Justice and members of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.
More than anything else, survivors of crime want to prevent anyone else from having to join our ranks, said Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Californians for Safety and Justice. What survivors across this state are calling for is for health, wellbeing and rehabilitation to be at the center of our approach to public safety, not just incarceration.
Survivors of crime experience significant challenges to recovering and healing, with at-least 8 in 10 reporting that they experience at least one symptom of trauma following an incident. Most victims do not get the kind of help someone might need to heal. One survey found, two out of every three crime victims report receiving no help following the incident. Only 8 percent of all victims of violence receive direct assistance from a victim service agency, and this already low number drops to 4 percent when the crime is unreportedwhich is the case for more than half of all violent crimes. Crime survivors who are young, low income, or from communities of color are often those most harmed by crime and violence but receive the least help.
For too long, the voices and experiences of diverse crime survivors have been ignored in public safety policymaking. Despite tremendous increases in spending, most justice systems have failed to adequately meet the needs of survivors and stop the cycle of crime. Instead of putting the needs of survivors first, billions of dollars have been wasted on ineffective policies.
Survivors Speak brings together crime survivors to advocate for policies that prevent crime, better support survivors, families and communities, and reduce wasteful incarceration. Survivors Speak elevates the voices of diverse crime survivors to ensure their experiences shape public safety and justice policies.
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]