CA Senate Bill No. 1437:
From the Perspective of a Victim of Crime
Have you ever met a victim of crime? Victims are not typically vocal about it because it is excruciatingly painful to recount to others, let alone new friends. Being a victim of a crime is not the first topic when introducing one self. Is it supposed to come out like being vegan? You know, where it’s the first thing you blurt out after your name? Hi, I’m Elizabeth, and I’m vegan. Imagine that? Hi, I am Elizabeth, and I’m a victim of crime. Members of a criminal street gang murdered my brother Sammy in a fight a few days before Christmas 2008; how do you do?
The members of said criminal street gang were found guilty and sentenced accordingly. Many say time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t. There’s unseen grief. Trauma. A lifetime sentence.
The State of California re-victimized us, the victims, once more with SB-1437. Senate Bill-1437 supposedly addresses prison overcrowding by resentencing individuals fairly based on their culpability. Supposedly, because there should have been other alternatives considered besides a clean slate for those criminals.
The reality is convicted aiders and abettors to murder are petitioning for a resentencing to be released, and or resentenced for a more lenient sentence. Other alternatives should have been considered before enacting SB-1437 into law. Such as creating an across the board sentence for certain crimes. For example, the case with Brock Turner, he received a light sentence because of his privilege. Resentencing should focus on that, not letting criminals go unaccounted for their crime and receiving a similar sentence as one would receive if poor, rich, black, white, etc. There should have been studies and analysis on the system as a whole, included victims and citizens in the discussion, before finalizing and enacting SB-1437 into law. I urge the State of California to reconsider SB-1437. I am pleading; Governor Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, please revaluate SB-1437. Judge Filer, you are reviewing their resentence petition. Don’t forget to consider their criminal street gang affiliation. Consider the life taken, Sammy, my brother who is not here to celebrate another holiday. Consider the safety of the community. Consider the victims. Consider my plea.
Criminals are different; “they lack emotion, empathy, remorse, or guilt.” (Moskowitz, Clara. “Criminal Minds Are Different From Yours, Brain Scans Reveal.” ) The accomplices were grown adults in his and her thirties, their understanding of right and wrong was developed. Yet they chose to participate in the act that ultimately led to the murder of my brother Sammy, a teenager, unarmed. Everyone has choices. Their choice was murderous, wrong, ill intentioned, call it what you will, their choice had a deadly consequence. Murder. I argue their actions were reckless and they acted with indifference to human life. Judge Filer, I truly hope you agree.
Their debt to society is not paid. Constructive members of society with an understanding of right from wrong would have tried to stop the fight, called the police, separate the fight, but they didn’t, they escalated it, caused a fight, armed themselves, held a gun while crowd-controlling to prevent others from stopping the fight and murdered my brother Sammy. I argue that all their actions
SB-1437, murder resentencing of aiders and abettors is wrong for California, sends the wrong message to victims. Have compassion for victims of crimes.
This December, as the date nears, my grief continues to grow. Silently. I show up at every petition hearing I am aware of, so everyone knows Sammy existed. That he had loved ones. That I loved him. That he is cared for even now.
Unless your sibling was murdered, you can’t disagree with my plea. There’s one wish I ask this Holiday. I wish for your help. Join me and write to Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Judge Filer, Governor Newsom, and to your local representatives and help me voice dissent of SB-1437. Write letters. Governor Newsom undue the damage Brown caused.