In This Issue
CalVCP Launches New Online Procedure ManualFrom the Desk of Julie Nauman, Executive Officer
This month I am proud to announce the final release of our upgraded version of the 2010 Victim Compensation Program Online Procedure Manual and our roll-out to all Joint Powers (JP) county staff.
This edition of the manual is considered a "living document," and is designed in a web based format which includes many new features to assist CalVCP and JP staff in making decisions regarding the eligibility and benefits for victims of crime.
The online version will allow us to keep this vital document up-to-date without having to go through the time consuming and costly process of distributing, printing and replacing pages as we did in the former binder-version. It’s exciting to know that staff will have immediate access to the most current information regarding procedures, statutes and regulations.
VCGCB has made great strides, to make sustainability an organization-wide priority. Replacing the 500 page manual with a user friendly electronic version tops the list of those efforts. The previous hard copy manuals used more than a million sheets of paper annually. This move to an online version will save the cost of printing replacements and shipping hundreds of manuals to county offices statewide.
Some of the features of the new manual include navigation tools, a search engine, direct hyperlinks to CalVCP forms, form letters and outside sources such as licensing boards, a currency converter and a language translator. The search engine allows users to enter keywords and receive answers quickly instead of having to thumb through the burdensome hard copy.
We are already receiving positive feedback from our county partners and VCP staff, who are thrilled with the new manual. In Los Angeles, JP staff supervisors quickly realized how attached their team was to the old binders—and in an effort to “keep everyone on the same page” they actually rolled a mail cart around to collect and recycle them on demand! Thankfully, Supervising Victim Services Representative Tambria Decourse reports, the trade was a good one! She says after a couple of days to adjust, she loves the new e-version, and her entire staff finds the new web links posted on the homepage very helpful.
I am proud of the great work done by so many who have helped create and maintain this powerful tool to help serve victims more efficiently.
CalVCP’s Summer Sessions with the DA’s
2010 California District Attorneys Association Summer Conference
The week of June 28th marked the 2010 California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) Summer Conference in Monterey. VCGCB Chief Counsel Wayne Strumpfer attended Monday’s CDAA Victims’ Rights Committee meeting. Representatives provided reports from the Governor’s Office, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Board of Parole Hearings, Cal EMA, CalVCP, California Crime Victims Assistance Association (CCVAA), and CVAA.
Mr. Strumpfer reported to the committee about CalVCP’s efforts to increase the restitution fund, while at the same time, lowering internal administrative costs by 15%. San Bernardino County District Attorney and CDAA President, Michael Ramos discussed the introduction of a Victim Summit proposed for September 2010, that will highlight the collection of restitution fines.
Through our participation, CalVCP extended support and collaboration at this summer’s California District Attorneys Association Conference.
National District Attorneys Association 2010 Summer Conference
On July 10th, Executive Officer Julie Nauman joined the round table discussion at the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) 2010 Summer Conference in Napa. Formed in 1950, the National District Attorneys Association is the oldest and largest professional organization representing criminal prosecutors in the world.
The NDAA Crime Victims’ Advocacy Committee round table provided prosecutors and crime victim advocates the opportunity to meet and engage in important and timely discussions regarding victims’ rights and to learn from members of the advocacy community how our nation’s prosecutors can further assist in providing the rights and services for victims of crime. Short presentations were given to provoke discussion concerning current victim issues. The round table discussion brought forth great ideas and collaboration as Julie Nauman commented, “The 2010 CDAA Summer Conference proved an important opportunity for prosecutors to exchange ideas and expertise.”
The committee round table event kicked off the weeklong conference. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner welcomed conference attendees as keynote speaker, stating, “The National District Attorneys Association has long enjoyed a reputation for providing topnotch continuing legal education.”
CalVCP Extends Outreach to Senior Citizens
On Friday June 25th, California’s Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) took part in their first Senior Health and Safety Fair held at the Ethel Hart Senior Center in downtown Sacramento.
Over 22 organizations participated at the event, including representatives from the Sacramento Police Department, Agency for Hearing, Alzheimer’s Association, and Senior Legal Hotline just to name a few. Heidi Richardson from Adult Protective Services gave a very informative presentation covering abuse, negligence, fraud and an array of other concerns for seniors.
Nearly one hundred seniors attended and CalVCP was able to directly connect with many of them. Several shared their personal stories and found our program fact sheets, elder abuse information, brochures, and applications very helpful. Through this public event, victim advocate groups were also able to provide local seniors with information on choosing a caregiver, understanding the signs of elder abuse and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Elder Abuse victims often are unwilling to seek assistance because they unfortunately believe their cries for help will go unanswered or fear retaliation from their abusers. Many remain silent to protect abusive family members from the legal consequences of their crimes. Others fear that no one will believe them – chalking up their allegations to the effects of old age. For more information about elder abuse, check out CalVCP’s factsheet on elderly victims of crime.
Victim Restitution Outreach Campaign Kicks-Off In July
Comprehensive Program Tackles Community Outreach, Training and Meetings with Key Officials
In July, CalVCP will kickoff its Restitution Outreach Campaign in the greater Los Angeles area and then proceed to other key regions throughout California. Orange County will be the first stop along the way and will consist of a weeklong program to review procedures, laws, and strategies for collecting restitution.
Executive Director, Julie Nauman will spearhead the efforts through a series of meetings with key officials in targeted Southern California counties to discuss the impact the failing economy has had on the Restitution Fund, as well as the importance of imposing and collecting restitution fines. Following this, CalVCP’s Restitution Recovery team members will be co-hosting open house with victim advocacy group, Crime Survivors, at the Office of Senator Lou Correa and delivering a presentation on Victim Restitution to the public. Lastly, a series of comprehensive training sessions given by Restitution Trainer, Melanie Bown, will help further educate critical stakeholders on their legal obligations, strategies for ordering and collecting restitution as well as offering supportive case law.
Restitution is a complicated subject, especially when it comes to educating the general public. It can be a challenge navigating the system and determining what roles different agencies fulfill in ordering and collecting restitution. This weeklong effort, particularly the open house, will provide attendees the opportunity to ask questions and clarify how the system works.
It is CalVCP’s goal to replicate this type of restitution-focused outreach in large counties across the State in the coming months.
CalVCP Regulations Now Available For Public Comment
Proposed CalVCP regulations will be available for public comment from July 23 – September 16, 2010. Aside from amending existing regulations, some of the new proposals include: Rule 649.17.1 Increased Relocation Benefits for Unusual, Dire, or Exceptional Circumstances; Rule 649.19 Home Security Device or System; and Rule 649.20 Purchase of a Vehicle.
CalVCP welcomes your comments and concerns during the formal rulemaking process. If you have ideas to better CalVCP’s regulations please submit them; your idea could help make the Program more efficient to better serve California victims. To obtain a copy of the Notice of Rulemaking Action, the Initial Statement of Reasons and the proposed regulation text, please visit the regulations page of the VCGCB website anytime during the formal comment period.
VCGCB Public Affairs Welcomes New PIO
We are happy to announce the VCGCB Department of Legislation and Public Affairs (LPA) has hired Janice Mackey as the new Public Information Officer. Janice is a seasoned Public Relations Pro, having spent many years working in the private sector spearheading Communications programs for several major organizations including Microsoft, LSI Logic and National Semiconductor as well as managing accounts for the world’s largest Public Relations firm, Weber Shandwick. In addition, she is a proud recipient of the coveted PRSA Bronze Anvil Award for her Media Relations efforts.
Janice began her duties of informing the California public about CalVCP on June 20th and immediately hit the ground running, launching into media and outreach planning for the upcoming Orange County Restitution training and public awareness events CalVCP will be participating in the week of July 28. Along with her duties of responding to media inquiries and writing press releases about CalVCP efforts, Janice will also play a strategic part in helping LPA build awareness throughout the State.
She can be reached at email@example.com
CalVCP Partners with Sister Agency to Get the Word out on Restitution
This month CalVCP collaborated with CDCR to raise awareness about the Restitution Fund and the effects the failing economy has had on collections. The following article will also appear in CDCR’s internal and external newsletters—reaching a new audience outside the jurisdiction of CalVCP CompConnection readers.
Despite Difficult Economy, Restitution Remains Top Priority in Victim Services
The State’s Restitution Fund is a necessary and important part of a victim’s recovery in California and the sustainability of the Fund is critical to continue to provide the fundamental services that victims deserve. The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) is working hard to ensure that these services remain, as they well should be, a priority. During these tough economic times, heavy focus is being given to protecting and increasing the State Restitution Fund.
While there are signs the fund has been impacted by the recession, CalVCP and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continue to work together to provide financial assistance to victims of crime. Last year, CalVCP paid out over $94 million dollars to victims of violent crime using criminal restitution collected throughout the State. Current projections reveal CalVCP will pay out even more this year. For this reason, it is important that restitution collection keeps up with projected demand to compensate victims.
“Keeping the Fund strong and viable is key to our mission of helping every eligible crime victim in California access the services they need to begin to heal.” said Julie Nauman, Executive Officer, CalVCP. “We must continue to ensure that criminal offenders are paying what is owed to victims.”
The State Restitution Fund, which is comprised of revenue collected from restitution fines and orders, diversion fees and penalty assessments paid by criminal offenders, is the main source of funding for CalVCP. These funds provide critical assistance to victims who have exhausted all other methods of covering the costs of being victimized.
While no amount of money can make a victim or their loved ones feel whole again, financial assistance with unexpected costs can assure their lives are not further disrupted by a random act of violence. Recently Melissa Huckaby, who murdered nine-year old Sandra Cantu of Tracy California, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At her sentencing, the judge ordered Huckaby pay restitution in the amount of $8,277 to cover the costs associated with Sandra’s funeral. Following a crime, victims and families like Sandra’s are often left covering expenses they didn’t plan for. This is especially difficult in a recession. Restitution funds can help pay for important services such as medical bills, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs or emergency relocation costs associated with the crime.
With the assistance of the victim and/or victim’s family, restitution is determined by the local District Attorney’s Office or probation department in each of California’s 58 counties. Once the victim’s losses are determined, the restitution amount is reported to the sentencing judge. The amount of restitution imposed by the court is based on the circumstances of the crime and the losses sustained by the victim. CalVCP relies on CDCR and county agencies to collect these funds to ensure services to victims continue.
“Our partners in the collection and distribution of court ordered restitution are a very integral part of comprehensive victim services in California.” said Sandi Menefee, Assistant Secretary CDCR Office of Victim and Survivor Services. “It is important to remember that the California Constitution and several restitution laws have entitled crime victims and survivors to be compensated for the event that caused them to become involved with the criminal justice system. Restitution collection from offenders brings an awareness of their crime and what it costs as well as addresses the concept of restorative justice and individual accountability.”
Because restitution is a complex topic, often leaving crime victims confused about how their offender pays or what they need to do to ensure the money is collected, CalVCP and CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Services educate victims about restitution by conducting outreach, distributing publications and posting information online.
To learn more about restitution for victims, visit the CalVCP Restitution Recovery Program page at www.vcgcb.ca.gov/restitution/ or the CDCR Restitution Information page at www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/restitution.html.
Earlier this year, CalVCP partnered with CDCR OVSS to conduct restitution outreach at Valley State Prison for Women.