|For Immediate Release
April 27, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
400 TURN OUT TO MARCH AT FIRST ANNUAL VICTIMS’ RIGHTS MARCH AND RALLY HONORING LIVES OF MURDERED AND SURVIVING VICTIMS
SANTA ANA – In remembrance of murdered victims, in celebration of surviving victims, and in honor of victims’ rights, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) hosted approximately 400 people today, Monday, April 27, 2009, at the first annual Victims’ Rights March and Rally.
“This is a wonderful day to remember those we have lost, honor those who have survived, and celebrate our tenacity and strength,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Following a welcome reception at the District Attorney’s Office, approximately 400 people marched to the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana. The Santa Ana Police Department Honor Guard attended the wreath, at the foot of which victims, family, friends, law enforcement, and community leaders laid flowers to honor and celebrate the lives of murdered and surviving victims. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Orange Police Chief and Vice President of the County Chiefs of Police and Sheriff’s Association Robert Gustafson, and a moment of silence was led by Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Pat Bates. A dove release followed the moment of silence.
District Attorney Rackauckas addressed the attendees and then introduced the three speakers, Collene Campbell, Erin Runnion, and Ruth Allen. Collene Campbell, an active victims rights advocate, founded Memory Of Victims Everywhere, or MOVE, after the unrelated murders of her brother, Mickey Thompson, and son, Scott Campbell. Erin Runnion founded The Joyful Child Foundation to protect children from being victimized after her 5-year-old daughter, Samantha Runnion, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered. Ruth Allen served on the Board of Directors of and remains active with Parents of Murdered Children Inc., after her husband, Philip Cousins, was murdered in 1994 and his case was prosecuted over 15 years later after technological advances linked Mr. Cousins’ killer to the murder weapon.
The first annual Victims’ Rights March and Rally follows almost two decades of legal efforts to secure the rights of crime victims. In 1990, Proposition 115 increased defendant sentences and decreased the number of times a victim had to testify. In 1996, Megan’s Law required sex offender registration and gave parents and the community access to sex offender residence addresses in their neighborhoods. In 2000, Proposition 21 increased the punishments for serious and dangerous gang crimes. In 2004, Proposition 69 required felony arrestees to submit a DNA sample and Proposition 66, which would have allowed the release of dangerous third-strikers, was defeated. In 2006, Proposition 83, or Jessica’s Law, instituted mandatory 15-years to life sentences for certain serious sex offenses against children. Last year, Marsy’s Law codified victims’ rights into the California Constitution.