A recent statewide survey proves that most victims question the benefits of imprisoning more criminals and prefer rehabilitation, education and Gov. Jerry Brown’s Realignment program. 500 participants were randomly selected, the survey was conducted by David Binder Research for Californians for Safety and Justice, April 2013.
50% of the victims said California should focus more on supervised probation and rehabilitation for convicted criminals, compared with 23% who wanted more focus on sending them to jail or prison.
Victims also favored spending more on mental health and drug and alcohol treatment over spending more imprisonment, by 74% to 10%.
Nearly 80% said the state should invest more money in education as opposed to spending more on prisons.
36% said California sends too many people to prison and 33% said it sends too few, a difference that was within the poll’s margin of error, which was 4.4% percentage points.
38% of the victims said prison trains inmates to be better criminals and only 15% said prison rehabilitates inmates, with the rest saying it has no impact or expressing other views.
On realignment, Brown’s legislatively approved program of reducing the state prison population by sentencing lower-level felons to county jails instead of prison, 65% percent of the victims were in support, compared to 69% of the general population in a statewide survey conducted last November.
1/5 of California adults report being a victim of crime in the past five years, and half of the crimes were violent.
2/3 of victims reported suffering stress, anxiety, and other psychological problems, which typically lasted six month or longer.
36% of crime victims said the state sends too many people to prison and 33% said it sends too few.
50% of the victims said the state should focus more on supervised probation and rehabilitation for convicted criminals, while 23% said the state should focus more on sending them to jail or prison.
65% of the victims favored realignment, Gov. Jerry Brown’s program of sending low-level felons to county jails of state prison, while 24% opposed it.
The information gathered contradicts the public position of the most visible victims’ groups, which have campaigned for longer sentences and opposed rollbacks of the states’s three strikes law. Harriet Salarno, chairwoman of Crime Victims United disputed the survey by putting a stand for public safety first “Simply because they have the money to bundle their report in a nice pretty package does not mean it is a true representation of how victims feel.” Dionne Wilson of Morgan Hill one of the members of Anderson’s organization also expressed her committed belief in the lock-‘em-up approach until one night in July 2005, when one of her friends came to her door and said her husband, Dan Niemi, a San Leandro police officer, had been shot and killed. Irving Ramirez was later convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.
This past week Wilson expressed her view “I thought the trial and conviction would bring me peace. It didn’t. I came to see the criminal justice system in a new light. It spends most of its resources on punishment and isn’t making us any safer.”
The survey also concluded that 1 in 5 Californians has been a victim of crime in the past five years. Half of those have been violent crimes, whose victims are more likely to be young, low income and African American or Latino the report said.
The survey as well found disparities in victim’s willingness to report crimes to the police:
- 84 % reported burglaries
- 65% reported vandalism
- 65% reported assaults
- 50% reported rapes
- 39% reported stalking
Victims expressed that the main reasons they did not take action in reporting crimes was partly because of the time and effort required and the “lack of faith that anything will happen”. Many of the victims as well were unaware of most state-funded services available to them for assistance in applying for compensation from a victims’ fund in seeking counseling and in navigating the criminal justice system.