Traditional crime victims' advocates have aligned themselves with law enforcement, maintaining that justice should come in the form of harsh punishment of offenders. A new movement of crime victims has more in common with criminal justice reformers seeking alternatives to tough sentencing policies, reports AlJazeera America. Grounded in research that establishes clear links between early exposure to violence and self-destructive patterns, the new victims' advocates want to spend less on prisons and more on crime prevention, trauma care and other forms of counseling.
At the movement's core is the belief that criminals and their most frequent victims belong to the same community. The organization called Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ) favors sentencing reform to reduce California's reliance on jail and prison, in tandem with expanded victim services. David Guizar chairs Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the victims' affiliate of CSJ. Because most states don't have groups as well organized as CSJ, it has been laying plans to go national. The tentatively named Alliance for Safety and Justice will adopt the CSJ model for multiple state affiliates.