Bonta Bill To Provide Peer Counseling Services To Victims Of Violent Crime Passes Assembly

Thursday, May 29, 2014

AB 1629 supports victims of gun violence and other violent crimes

(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is pleased to announce that AB 1629 passed the Assembly 79 to 0. The bill would expand the California Victim Compensation Fund to compensate peer counselors for providing services to victims of violent crime.

“As the Chair of the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, I spent much of last year meeting with and engaging stakeholders regarding the best strategies to address gun violence. One phrase that consistently came up was ‘hurt people hurt people’, which speaks to the ongoing challenges victims of trauma face,” said Bonta.

Bonta further explained, “Under the existing California Victims Compensation Fund model, intervention specialists providing counseling to victims of domestic and sexual violence are already reimbursed through the fund. However, peer counseling for victims of other violent crimes, including gun-related crimes, is not reimbursed through the program. The U.S. Department of Justice recently released data that indicates a 3% increase in violent crimes in California.  Also, notably, more than half of the 54,115 applications received by the California Victim Compensation Program were requests for assistance related to violent crimes excluding sexual assault. These statistics show the important need to offer violence prevention and intervention services to help heal victims, families, and communities damaged by violent crime.

Anne Marks, Executive Director of Youth ALIVE! and Training Director for the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, explained that AB 1629 will provide lasting healing through violence intervention. “On behalf of the nearly 2,000 victims of violence that Youth ALIVE! has served through our Caught in the Crossfire program over the last 20 years, I want to thank Assemblymember Bonta for his leadership. Peer-based, culturally appropriate intervention after violence occurs is effective and saves lives.”

Assemblymember Bonta has been vigilant in his efforts to address violence and crime in the East Bay.  This new bill is just one part of a larger strategy to expand statewide efforts to curb the violence and help victims heal. Last year, Bonta introduced AB 174 (establishing a program to fund school based mental health services for students impacted by trauma, emphasizing trauma caused by gun-related violence), AB 180 (providing Oakland with additional tools to curb gun violence within the city), AB 187 (establishing a tax on ammunition in order to support mental health services for children and support crime prevention efforts), and AB 514 (provided additional resources to students affected by gangs, gun violence, and psychological trauma).

Bonta concluded, “AB 1629 will support the physical and emotional recovery of Californians injured by gun or other violence by extending peer counseling services and reimbursement to persons providing assistance to those victims. By providing victims with culturally-competent health services, we will not only help them with their basic health needs following a traumatic episode, but we will reduce overall gun violence by supporting intervention and de-escalation efforts.”

Support for the bill includes Youth ALIVE!, City of Oakland, the California Catholic Conference, the San Francisco Wraparound Project, Crime Victims United of California, Californians for Safety and Justice, PolicyLink, Children’s Defense Fund-California, AFSCME, WellSpace Health, and the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs.

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He is the Chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay. Bonta is also a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Banking & Finance, and Elections & Redistricting Committees.