Bay Area DA's meet with crime survivors to find solutions, better ways to support victims

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This is the first time a group of survivors of violent crimes from across the Bay Area met in person with multiple district attorneys to speak about their stories.

It was intimate and raw, and for the first time many of these survivors felt heard.

For Alan Hinman, it's been 28 years. He's a survivor of the 1993 mass shooting at a San Francisco Law firm.

"I fight PTSD and in fact being in this city is hard on me. It's the first time I've been here in a lot of years," said Hinman.

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For Jennifer Redmond, it's been a year since her 19-year-old daughter was killed.

"She was visiting her friend's apartment when multiple gunshots were fired into the apartment and she was shot," said Redmond.

For Lucy Andrews, it's been two years since she was attacked and left with a traumatic brain injury.

"I was walking in my neighborhood, couple blocks from my house, and a car pulled behind me. A teenager got out, grabbed a gun and tried to take my stuff and started beating me over the head with the butt of his pistol," said Andrews.

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For more than two hours, sitting in a circle, eight survivors of crime, rape and shootings shared their emotional stories and trauma.

"I wouldn't be here today. I would've taken my life because you don't overcome losing somebody. You learn to live with it," said Norma Marquez after sharing her brother had been murdered.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton simply listened.

"I heard a request for a resource list, for example. That individuals don't have to go around trying to figure out who to call or where to go. There are lots of things that I think we can do together," said Becton.

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Their hope is for this meeting to spark policy change.

"My goal before I leave office is to insure that we have enough victim advocates to respond to every single victim of every crime within 48 hours and tell them what their rights are in a language they can understand," said Boudin.

Several survivors shared the need for justice for cases that haven't been solved.

"In 2017, I lost a second brother. He was the second homicide on January 1st and he was standing and talking with friends and was shot," said Tinisch Hollins

These survivors also emphasized the need for accountability and victim's compensation.

"The victims compensation board determined initially that the claims that I was submitting were 'unrelated to what had happened to me' and so I was in the hole thousands of dollars. I certainly couldn't afford it and had to be on the phone with the victims compensation board once a week narrating my trauma," said Andrews.

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At the end of this meeting survivors were candid, asking, "Well what's next? What's going to come out of this?"

Survivors went around the circle and listed several changes they will like to see. They suggested a comprehensive list of resources so future survivors of crime won't have to spend time searching for help.

They also mentioned more follow up by police officers, detectives and social workers regarding their cases.

Both district attorneys agreed the system has failed many survivors.

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District Attorney Boudin shared with us the need for increased therapy for survivors and, "At a minimum, we need to make sure people can take time off work, that they can get child care, that they can get therapy and that they can get their medical and other related expenses directly related to the harmed caused reimbursed," said Boudin.

Contra Costa County District Attorney Becton talked about victims' compensation and making that process more accessible.

"What I heard today, I'm also going to take it back to my office. I'm also going to be working with the Prosecutors Alliance to organize a listening session similar to this in Contra Costa County, so we can hear directly from victims in our own county as well," said Becton.

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