YA! Legislative Advocacy Update
Even as Washington grows more hostile to newcomers and people of color, the State of California continues to increase fairness and access to critical support and services.
For years, even in California, the victim compensation system discriminated against people of color, denying victims services by tagging them as gang-affiliated without any due process. Vulnerable victims in urgent need of everything from financial aid to trauma-informed counseling were being denied help based on assumptions and allegations. But now Gov. Brown has signed into law AB 1639 known as the Healing for All Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella,) that clearly establishes with local law enforcement, statewide, that neither access to information about crime victim compensation, nor an application for compensation, can be denied solely on the basis of victims’ or their family members’ alleged membership or association with a gang. It also prohibits barring access based on immigration status or documentation.
It’s great news and Youth ALIVE!’s advocacy team and partners were active in its passage. Teens on Target youth leaders participated in rallies in Sacramento and visited legislators to encourage a Yes vote.
Speaking at the Sacramento rally, TNT youth leader Dymond Garrett, a sophomore at Castlemont, told about the first time she was shot at, at age 8, in her father’s house, how ever since then, she has looked over her shoulder, how this happens every day in Oakland, how the price of a bullet in California is a mere .11 cents. TNT youth leaders and people from our community have been decrying these circumstances for decades.
“And yet,” said Dymond, “it took until now for people to listen, it took young people to take a stand, when it should be older people taking a stand, older people who should have been listening, as human beings.”
One of many pieces of legislation Youth ALIVE! supported this year, AB 1639 was not the only success. SB 1232 successfully aimed to extend the time period during which young crime victims may file applications for compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board Restitution Fund and SB 1391 ended the transfer to adult court of children 14 and 15 years of age. For more information on the bills we supported and their success read here.