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Schwarzenegger supports crime victim's Bill of Rights

By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service

June 27, 2006

OAKLAND (BCN) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in Oakland today that he supports state legislation that would give crime victims new rights.

Accompanied by local police chiefs and several high profile crime victims, Schwarzenegger also said he has appointed Susan Fisher of Sacramento to the newly-created position of Crime Victim Advocate and that he is expediting a program to use global positioning systems to track dangerous criminals.

Fisher, 53, who attended the news conference at the Alameda County Family Justice Center, most recently served as chair of the state Board of Parole Hearings.

"Being a victim of crime is a life-altering experience and I know that victims face challenges and hardships most of us cannot even imagine," Schwarzenegger said.

He said he supports "The Crime Victims Bill of Rights," a comprehensive legislative proposal authored by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, to help crime victims overcome the hardships caused by criminal acts.

The legislation aims to build upon the efforts of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who introduced a similar constitutional amendment at the federal level by creating a strong set of rights for victims in the state constitution.

If passed, the state legislation, ACA 37, would give victims new rights, allowing them to have direct contact with the district attorney in serious, violent cases, attend all public hearings and be present and heard at parole hearings. Victims would also be allowed to receive information about their case, including sentencing and release data, and have a lawyer or the district attorney enforce their rights in court.

Schwarzenegger said he has directed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to place Global Positioning System monitors on 2,000 offenders over the next two years instead of the originally scheduled four years, cutting the time in half.

Last year, he signed a pilot program into law that he said will better track the worst 2,000 sex offenders and other criminals in California and enhance public safety.

Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said "today is a momentous day for the victims of crime" thanks to Schwarzenegger's advocacy for victims' rights.

Kim Petersen of the Sund/Carrington Foundation, which offers rewards to help solve crimes, said crime victims need support and resources because "they feel they have no voice and no rights."

Sharon Rocha, the mother of murder victim Laci Peterson, attended the news conference, as did Marc Klaas, the father of murder victim Polly Klaas.

Bay Area police chiefs who attended were Wayne Tucker of Oakland,

Ray Samuels of Newark, Ken James of Emeryville and Pete Dunbar of Pleasant Hill.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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