Twenty-five years after the slaying of a California college student, voters will consider an initiative launched in her name that would give a stronger voice to crime victims and their families, and impose harsher treatment on convicted killers, reports the Los Angeles Times. Proposition 9 would require that crime victims be notified and consulted on developments in their cases. It would give them first claim on any restitution to be collected from offenders, and it would force prosecutors to take their opinions into account. The measure also would make the state criminal justice system tougher in ways that critics, including Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, say could violate prisoners’ constitutional rights.
Ex-convicts accused of violating parole would lose their right to a lawyer provided by the state. Those serving possible life sentences could be denied parole for up to 15 years, triple the current maximum. An unlimited number of victims would be able to testify at an inmate’s parole hearing and say whatever they want without having to answer questions from an inmate or the inmate’s lawyer. “Victims just have no rights,” said Marcella Leach, 79, the student victim’s mother. “All anybody cares about is the rights of the criminals.”