Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, announced a bill package Wednesday to protect crime victims and ensure their voices are heard during the parole process.
“These new measures, Assembly Bill 1846 and AB 1847, are desperately needed to combat the reckless policies enacted by Los Angeles (County) District Attorney George Gascón and ensure that no other California crime victim suffers under similar policies,” read a news release issued by Valladares’ office.
“Gascón is eroding the rights of crime victims to meaningfully participate in the legal process, with the largest impact on low-income families,” Valladares said in the news release. “These common-sense measures will ensure that crime victims’ voices will be heard and respected during the parole process. We must make sure that crime victims are supported not only in Los Angeles County, but throughout California.”
AB 1846 would provide crime victims reimbursement for reasonable attorneys’ fees up to $5,000 if a crime victim hires a private attorney to appear on their behalf at a parole hearing and the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the case does not send a representative to the hearing. The bill also permits a victim’s attorney to make the same kinds of arguments that a district attorney would typically make at a parole hearing, such as rebutting arguments by the inmate, arguing that the inmate is unsuitable for parole, and that the crime was especially heinous.
AB 1847 will reduce the costly time commitment that crime victims must give to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation if they wish to participate in parole hearings, and will ensure that crime victims may provide testimony at a resentencing hearing. The bill will also provide crime victims and their attorneys the same right to participate, in person, at parole hearings as currently exists for an inmate’s counsel.
“Keeping our neighborhoods safe is a top responsibility of our elected officials. When irresponsible people — like Gascón — fail our communities, and particularly crime victims, we must make changes to ensure victims’ rights are a top priority,” Valladares said in the release. “I will continue to fight for the rights of crime victims to help relieve their suffering and achieve the justice they deserve.”