AB 767 Would Be First Bill in Nation to Eliminate Barriers to Victim Compensation That Lock Too Many Survivors of Color, Police Violence Victims and Others Out of Critical Support 

July 7, 2020

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; will@safeandjust.org 

OAKLAND, Calif. – California’s largest network of crime survivors on Tuesday lauded a first-in-the-nation proposal introduced last week by Asm. Tim Grayson (D-Martinez) that would eliminate barriers to victim compensation faced by victims of police brutality and other violent crimes. 

The bill, A.B. 767, would end California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) denials of the support to victims, based on confusing language that allows them to be blamed for their own death or injury, police reports and conclusions as the only judge of victimization, or based on an old conviction history.  

These restrictions lock many victims of color out of the needed support for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and counseling. Victims of police violence and their families are typically excluded entirely from the program. (CalVCB) can deny applications if it finds “denial is appropriate due to…the involvement of the person whose injury or death gives rise to the application” or if it finds the survivor “failed to cooperate reasonably” with law enforcement. 

This is particularly perverse for survivors of police violence and the loved ones of people killed by police since a police report documenting the victimization is usually elusive. The very law enforcement official responsible for the injury or death can exert influence over whether a victim is denied support. These policies can also entrench racist perceptions that disregard the recognition of some victims, disproportionately harming Black survivors and other victims of color. Recent analyses of victim compensation denial data in other states have found those that apply subjective “contributory misconduct” exclusions, and conviction-based restrictions, deny Black victims and families at disproportionate rates.

The bill would also:

  •  Bar denial of a victim compensation application based solely on the contents or absence of a police report
  • Allow CalVCB to rely on documentation other than a police report to determine a crime occurred, like a report from a mental health provider
  • Bar denials for non-cooperation with law enforcement if the survivor has taken actions to support their safety and healing, like seeking medical or mental health treatment 
  • Change the definition of “crime” in compensation law to ensure eligibility for compensation is not dependent on whether there is an arrest or persecution

The following can be attributed to Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice:

“A.B. 767 takes a comprehensive approach to changing policies that have served only to lock too many survivors out of victim compensation for too long. For decades, crime survivors, and survivors of color in particular, have been leading calls to eliminate barriers and ensure survivors of all violence, including police violence, can receive compensation. In addition to leaving entire communities with no resources for addressing trauma, these policies have served to entrench racist perceptions of survivors as “deserving” or “underserving,” disproportionately denying Black survivors and other people of color access to victim services. This must end, and we are proud to stand with Asm. Grayson in this fight.” 

Additional information about the bill is available here.