In the last year, more than 75,000 San Franciscans have reported being victims of crime.
As high as that sounds, we know the true number is much higher because many victims never file a report. Domestic violence incidents are especially concerning. In 2021 alone, there were 7,241 domestic violence-related calls to 911 in San Francisco. Yet while domestic violence cases are rising, almost 90% aren’t charged, leaving victims and their children vulnerable.
The current system forces victims and witnesses of crime already suffering from the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of crime to navigate a complicated system through multiple departments, and many are ultimately turned away with no support. We must give a voice to all victims so that they can recover what was taken from them physically and emotionally.
This measure will help provide critical services and support to all victims of crime, ensuring they can understand and access their legal rights. It will provide much-needed support and comprehensive services to all victims by establishing the Office of Victim and Witness Rights as well as the right to civil counsel for victims of domestic violence. The office will be a centralized place for all victims to receive protection that eliminates the red tape to accessing services. It will consolidate and coordinate existing victims’ services across all the public safety agencies, and connect victims of crime to financial assistance, medical reimbursement and mental health support.
Victims of domestic violence are often faced with complicated legal needs, especially those from low-income households. In many of these cases, the perpetrator is not charged and returns to the home where the victim lives, often with children who are witnesses to and victims of abuse. Establishing a right to civil counsel for all victims of domestic violence will provide critical support to these victims to ensure they are able to obtain protective orders, child support or custody, and housing.
Supporting all victims of crime is key to building a safer, more just San Francisco.
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