California Victims Resource Center launches new season of podcast, strives to help victims learn about rights
The California Victims Resource Center (CVRC) recently launched the third season of their podcast “Knowledge is Power: Victim to Survivor.” The first two seasons of the podcast are in English, and the third season is in Spanish.
CVRC staff Angelica Maldonado Navo, ’21 is the host of the third season of the podcast. The podcast discusses and broadcasts information about the Center’s mission and helps victims find resources and learn about their rights within the criminal justice system.
The podcast was the first of its kind to create an audible resource targeting this specific audience. In the podcast, the hosts interview a variety of guests from organizations such as the Center for Workers’ Rights, Legal Aid at Work, and others to provide valuable insights for victims.
The CVRC was established during the height of the Victims’ Right Movement, a time where states were passing laws to ensure that victims were able to participate in the criminal justice system. The center is a response to Californian citizens’ desire to create a location where victims and service providers could go to get information about victims’ rights, and is mandated by California Penal Code Section 13897.
McGeorge School of Law has been home to the California Victims Legal Resource Center since its inception in 1984. The CVRC provides victims of crimes with free legal assistance and resources, including victim compensation, protection from defendant, notification of inmate release, and victim restitution.
“McGeorge students have the opportunity to engage in this program that’s really one of a kind. Not only in the state of California, but in the entire country,” said Mariam El-menshawi, Director of the California Victims Resource Center. “There’s not another program that engages law students through their education and allows them to participate and learn about victims’ rights as our program does.”
The victims’ rights statute, also known as Marsy’s Law, protects and expands the legal rights of victims of crime to include 17 enumerated rights in the judicial process. It’s not uncommon for a victim of a crime to be lost in the process while going through the criminal justice system. CVRC’s hotline and website help victims by providing information about how victims can be heard in criminal proceedings and how they can get access to victim compensation.
McGeorge School of Law is currently the only program in the country that operates a statewide hotline for crime victims. There are less than five law schools throughout the U.S. that have similar crime victim programs, but the CVRC is the largest program of its kind. Several states have reached out to El-menshawi about wanting to replicate the hotline for victims’ services.
Every day, the CVRC provides assistance to dozens of callers across the state. They also work on research requests and provide technical assistance to service providers state-wide. The Center works with community-based and system-based service providers to make sure that victims are afforded their rights in the criminal justice system.
Center staff meets with clients and attends hearings on their behalf to make sure that their needs are met.
The Center also frequently does presentations for service providers and community groups, and the Center provides its services in English and Spanish. The Center's “Know Your Rights” presentation is geared towards both service providers and the community in general. Its purpose is to educate about victims’ rights.
El-menshawi, ’11, directs the team at the CVRC. The Center is staffed by five full-time employees, all of which are McGeorge School of Law alumni. McGeorge law students, under attorney supervision, provide assistance to victims, their families, service providers, and other victim advocates.
“I have a wonderful team. We see ourselves as family,” El-menshawi said. “I love to hire McGeorge students and love to expose them to this area of the law. It’s not something that is traditionally taught to students, so they really get to see the criminal justice system through a different lens. I think it makes them better practitioners no matter what they eventually deicide to practice in.”
Learn more about the California Victims Resource Center.
For more information about McGeorge School of Law, visit our website.
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