Southern California breaking news and trends

Survey: 20 percent of Californians have been a crime victim in the last 5 years

Unique March

Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

A group held hands in a large circle and said a prayer for crime victim Unique Russell and her family.

A survey published Thursday shows that one in five people in California say they’ve been a victim of a crime within the last five years (read the full report below).

The criminal justice policy advocacy group Californians for Justice and Safety commissioned the survey, which was conducted by the data firm David Binder Research. The company interviewed 2,600 people during April by landline, cell phone, and over the web.

Of those surveyed, 500 of them said they were a victim of crime. 

The majority of crime victims polled said they had something stolen from them. About 55 percent of them said a criminal vandalized their property.

Here are some other interesting finds from the survey:

  • African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to have been a victim of three or more crimes in the past five years.
  • Victims of violent crime tend to be young, poor and either African-American or Latino.
  • Most victims polled said they didn’t know what services were available to them, like victims’ compensation, mental health counseling and help navigating the court system.

But that’s not the real heat of the survey. It also asked people what they thought about incarcerating criminals, realignment and probation.

Lenore Anderson is director of Californians for Justice and Safety. She said the survey shows that victims have different views about judicial policy and want more prevention and treatment for criminals.

“Much of what we learned defies conventional wisdom,” she said. “It’s often assumed that victims are a monolithic group seeking tough punishments.” 

Here’s what the report says crime victims thought about incarceration:  

  • Three in four victims believe prisons either make better criminals or have no impact at all.
  • Seven in 10 victims support directing resources to crime prevention versus incarceration
  • About 65 percent of crime victims support realignment, the 2011 state law that shifted responsibility and funding for incarcerating non-violent, non-serious crimes from the state to counties.

The survey drew harsh criticisms from right-leaning criminal justice policy group, the Crime Victims United of California, whose director Harriet Salarno said she was outraged by the report.

“The victims we represent are not the same as the small sampling they interviewed,” Salarno said.

She slammed the realignment law and the option of funding regional rehabilitation centers throughout California for non-violent, non-serious convicted inmates.

Some things that both groups would probably agree on is more research on the profiles of crime victims in California and making them aware of victim’s services.

California Crime Victims' Voices Report

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