2009 California Penal Code - Section 13897-13897.3 :: Chapter 11. Victims' Legal Resource CenterPENAL CODE
13897. The Legislature finds and declares each of the following: (a) The citizens of California have expressed great concern for the plight of crime victims. (b) It is in the best interest, not only of the victims and their families, but also of all the citizens of California to ensure that crime victims receive comprehensive assistance in overcoming the effects of victimization. (c) While many options and rights exist for the crime victim, including providing financial assistance pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 13959) of Part 4 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, participation in sentencing and parole eligibility hearings of criminal perpetrators, civil litigation against the perpetrator and third parties, assistance from victim-witness programs, and private support and counseling services, research indicates that many crime victims suffer needlessly because they are not aware of these options and rights, or are apprehensive or uncertain about where to go for assistance or how to exercise their rights. (d) It is thus necessary to provide a resource center, statewide in scope, where victims of crime, their families, and providers of services to victims of crime can receive referral information, assistance, and legal guidance in order to deal effectively with the needs of victims of crime and minimize the continuing victimization process, which often results from a complex justice system. This resource center shall be independent, offer victims assistance in understanding and effectively exercising their legal rights, provide information about their rights and the workings of the criminal justice system, and direct them to appropriate local resources and agencies which can offer further assistance. The resource center shall provide, on a statewide basis, information assistance for all crime victims without charge and shall complement the efforts of various local programs, including victim-witness programs, rape crisis units, domestic violence projects, and child abuse centers. 13897.1. There shall be established a resource center which shall operate a statewide, toll-free information service, consisting of legal and other information, for crime victims and providers of services to crime victims. The center shall provide information and educational materials discussing victims' legal rights. The center shall distribute these materials to administrative agencies, law enforcement agencies, victim-service programs, local, regional, and statewide education systems, appropriate human service agencies, and political, social, civic, and religious leaders and organizations. As used in this chapter, "provider of services to crime victims" means any hospital, doctor, attorney, local or statewide rape crisis center, domestic violence center, child abuse counseling center, or victims' witness center that seeks to assist crime victims in understanding and exercising their legal rights, including those under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 13959) of Part 4 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. 13897.2. (a) The agency or agencies designated by the Director of Finance pursuant to Section 13820 shall grant an award to an appropriate private, nonprofit organization, to provide a statewide resource center, as described in Section 13897.1. (b) The center shall: (1) Provide callers with information about victims' legal rights to compensation pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 13959) of Part 4 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code and, where appropriate, provide victims with guidance in exercising these rights. (2) Provide callers who provide services to victims of crime with legal information regarding the legal rights of victims of crime. (3) Advise callers about any potential civil causes of action and, where appropriate, provide callers with references to local legal aid and lawyer referral services. (4) Advise and assist callers in understanding and implementing their rights to participate in sentencing and parole eligibility hearings as provided by statute. (5) Advise callers about victims' rights in the criminal justice system, assist them in overcoming problems, including the return of property, and inform them of any procedures protecting witnesses. (6) Refer callers, as appropriate, to local programs, which include victim-witness programs, rape crisis units, domestic violence projects, and child sexual abuse centers. (7) Refer callers to local resources for information about appropriate public and private benefits and the means of obtaining aid. (8) Publicize the existence of the toll-free service through the print and electronic media, including public service announcements, brochures, press announcements, various other educational materials, and agreements for the provision of publicity, by private entities. (9) Compile comprehensive referral lists of local resources that include the following: victims' assistance resources, including legal and medical services, financial assistance, personal counseling and support services, and victims' support groups. (10) Produce promotional materials for distribution to law enforcement agencies, state and local agencies, print, radio, and television media outlets, and the general public. These materials shall include placards, video and audio training materials, written handbooks, and brochures for public distribution. Distribution of these materials shall be coordinated with the local victims' service programs. (11) Research, compile, and maintain a library of legal information concerning crime victims and their rights. (12) Provide a 20-percent minimum cash match for all funds appropriated pursuant to this chapter which match may include federal and private funds in order to supplement any funds appropriated by the Legislature. (c) The resource center shall be located so as to assure convenient and regular access between the center and those state agencies most concerned with crime victims. The entity receiving the grant shall be a private, nonprofit organization, independent of law enforcement agencies, and have qualified staff knowledgeable in the legal rights of crime victims and the programs and services available to victims throughout the state. The subgrantee shall have an existing statewide, toll-free information service and have demonstrated substantial capacity and experience serving crime victims in areas required by this act. (d) The services of the resource center shall not duplicate the victim service activities of the agency or agencies designated by the Director of Finance pursuant to Section 13820 or those activities of local victim programs funded through the office. (e) The subgrantee shall be compensated at its federally approved indirect cost rate, if any. For the purposes of this section, "federally approved indirect cost rate" means that rate established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services or other federal agency for the subgrantee. Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the agency or agencies designated by the Director of Finance pursuant to Section 13820 to permit the use of federally approved indirect cost rates for other subgrantees of other grants administered by the office. (f) All information and records retained by the center in the course of providing services under this chapter shall be confidential and privileged pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 950) of Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code and Article 4 (commencing with Section 6060) of Chapter 4 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code. Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit compilation and distribution of statistical data by the center. 13897.3. The agency or agencies designated by the Director of Finance pursuant to Section 13820 shall develop written guidelines for funding and performance standards for monitoring the effectiveness of the resource center program. The program shall be evaluated by a public or private nonprofit entity under a contract with the agency or agencies designated by the Director of Finance pursuant to Section 13820.
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