|For Immediate Release
April 11, 2014
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA’S 6TH ANNUAL VICTIMS’ RIGHTS MARCH & RALLY
HONORS CRIME VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) hosted the 6th Annual Victims’ Rights March & Rally today in remembrance of murdered victims, in celebration of surviving victims, and in honor of victims’ rights. About 300 victims, family, friends, law enforcement, and community leaders marched from the District Attorney’s Office to the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana and laid flowers at the foot of a memorial wreath to honor and celebrate the lives of murdered and surviving victims.
The Orange County Victims’ Rights March & Rally was established in 2009 after 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. In 2008, Marsy’s Law codified victims’ rights into the California Constitution.
“You are here today because you belong to an unfortunate fraternity,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “You did not choose to be violated. You did not choose the pain. But what you did choose, especially by being here, is to survive, fight and stand up to evil.”
The March & Rally included a Presentation of the Colors by the Santa Ana Police Department Honor Guard, Pledge of Allegiance by Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas, National Anthem by Deputy District Attorney Anna Chinowth, Moment of Silence by Vice-Chair of the California State Board of Equalization Michelle Park Steel, presentation of proclamation by Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, Marsy’s Law updates by Dr. Henry Nicholas III, remarks by Congressman Ed Royce, and acknowledgement of victims’ rights organizations by Orange Police Department Chief Robert Gustafson.
The keynote speakers were John Steves, husband of murder victim Mara Steves, and Blandina Gomez-Benitez, a high school student who successfully participated in the Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP).
On Feb. 13, 2011, the day after their 21st wedding anniversary, John Steves’ wife Mara Steves was murdered by a driver who was under the influence of methamphetamine and prescription d