Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, announced that her bills to protect crime victims passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 1846 and AB 1847 “combat the reckless policies of Los Angeles (County) District Attorney George Gascón by breaking down barriers that make it harder for crime victims and their family members to be heard during parole or resentencing hearings,” said a prepared statement issued by Valladares’ office.
“Crime victims shouldn’t have to fend for themselves while navigating our complex legal system,” Valladares said in the statement. “My common-sense proposals will ensure that crime victims’ voices will be heard and respected during the parole process, regardless of Gascón’s dangerous and misguided policies.”
Specifically, AB 1846 provides reimbursement for crime victims and their families if they need to hire a private attorney to attend parole hearings on their behalf when the district attorney fails to send a representative. It also requires the district attorney to notify crime victims and their family members if the DA’s office will not be sending a representative to advocate for the victims and justice at a parole hearing.
“Victims and victims’ families need a legal representative there to make sure their rights are enforced,” Richard Vos, whose wife was murdered 40 years ago, said in the statement from Valladares’ office. “I have been a firefighter and paramedic for 34 years. In my years, I have seen just about everything and am used to handling stressful and adverse conditions. Few things have been as stressful for me as the most recent parole hearing where I had to navigate the legal process without the presence or help of an attorney or district attorney.”
AB 1847 prohibits the Board of Parole Hearings from requiring more than 15 days’ minimum notice that a victim, or any member of the victim’s family or their representative, of their intention to attend a parole suitability hearing. The bill also provides crime victims the ability to express their opinion on a petition of resentencing, even if the defense and prosecution both agree to waive the hearing.
“Keeping our neighborhoods safe is my top responsibility – and these proposals will help bring criminals to justice,” Valladares added. “We must stop these insane policies that silence victims. This vote was a huge step towards ensuring that crime victims’ voices are heard, helping them find closure and the peace they so richly deserve.”