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District Attorney Boudin Announces Expansion of Victim Services and Increased Language Access for Victims

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CONTACT:

Rachel Marshall
/ 415-416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org
Director of Communications / Policy Advisor / Assistant District Attorney

Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced that the District Attorney’s Victim Services Division (“VSD”) has hired ten new victim advocates—eight of whom are fluent in both English and another language—as part of its efforts to expand victim services and language access in San Francisco.  The new hires include advocates fluent in Spanish, Cantonese, Tagalog, and Creole, while other advocates in VSD are fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, Khmu, Spanish, Urdu and Hindi.  These new hires follow the June implementation of a new VSD policy to ensure that victims with limited English proficiency have access to court interpreters when observing and attending in-court proceedings. 

“Our office has and will continue to champion increased language access for victims and their families,” said District Attorney Boudin.  “Our new victim advocates and our recently implemented court interpreter policy further our commitment to centering crime victims and survivors and ensure that their voices are heard in decisions impacting their lives.”

Victim Services Division Advocates

The Victim Services Division (“VSD”) of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office strives to make the criminal justice system humane and accessible by providing support and assistance to victims and their families in the aftermath of a crime, during criminal prosecution, and after a case has concluded. Victim advocates in VSD support victims of crime regardless of whether an arrest is made.  Advocates help survivors navigate the legal process; seek restitution or recoup losses; obtain referrals to counseling or other services; and works to support victims regain control of their lives.   

The ten new victim advocates were hired following a selective application process.  Each of them is deeply committed to serving victims and empowering survivors in San Francisco.  They are currently undergoing an intensive week-long training program.

VSD Policy to Increase Interpreter Access for Victims

In addition to promoting increased language access by hiring advocates fluent in multiple languages, District Attorney Boudin has expanded language access for victims in other ways.  Since June 23, 2021, the District Attorney’s Office’s VSD has implemented a policy requiring victim advocates to request court interpreters for any survivors with limited English proficiency who wish to attend court or observe court proceedings.

The current practice in most jurisdictions, and in San Francisco prior to the implementation of this new policy, is to provide court interpreters for defendants and justice-involved youth—who have constitutional due process rights—and testifying witnesses—but not for victims observing court.  The new policy ensuring interpreters for victims in court will increase access to the courts and transparency for all survivors.

Although Marsy’s Law entitles victims to attend and be heard at various legal proceedings, without access to court interpreters, many victims cannot meaningfully participate in the legal process.  The new policy remedies this by ensuring that interpreters are always requested for all crime victims and survivors who choose to attend or observe legal proceedings—even when not testifying.

Since the implementation of the District Attorney’s policy in June, the San Francisco Superior Courts have been fully cooperative and have provided court interpreters for victims when requested by VSD advocates.  This is consistent with the city and county of San Francisco’s Language Access Ordinance.

“Since 2012, I have been fighting to increase language access in the courts, and as Interim Chief of Victim Services, I have been working to increase language access for victims in San Francisco,” said Interim Chief of Victim Services Division and Assistant District Attorney Kasie Lee.  “In most jurisdictions, crime victims with limited English proficiency are in the dark during court proceedings or are forced to rely on family members to update them.  This policy will uphold victims’ rights and will improve the experiences of victims throughout the often traumatic and confusing legal process. We are proud to be one of the first jurisdictions in California to ensure interpreter access for survivors and we thank the courts and the hardworking court interpreters for making increased language access for victims possible.”

If you are a victim of a crime in San Francisco, please reach out to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Services Division at victimservices@sfgov.org.

中文

CONTACT: 

Rachel Marshall / 415-416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org
Director of Communications / Policy Advisor / Assistant District Attorney

 三藩市地檢官博徹思宣布擴充受害者服務範圍並增加語言服務

三藩市——今天,三藩市地方檢官博徹思宣布,地檢署的受害者服務部 (Victim Services Division, VSD) 聘請了十名新的受害者倡導專員,其中八位是雙語人士,大幅度擴充受害者支援及語言服務。現時受害者服務部有精通流利西班牙語、國語、粵語、他加祿語、克里奧爾語 (Creole)、克木語 (Khmu)、烏爾都語 (Urdu) 和印地語 (Hindi) 的受害者倡導專員。除此之外,受害者服務部在今年六月起訂立新政策,以確保英語水平有限的受害者在參與旁聽時可獲得法庭口譯員提供翻譯服務。

地檢官博徹思說:「地檢署會一直努力不懈地擴展為受害者及其家人提供的語言服務。 新的受害者倡導專員和最近實施的法庭口譯政策,進一步實踐了我們以罪案受害者和倖存者為中心的承諾,確保在他們的聲音在任何決定發生前能被聽取。 」

受害者服務部倡導專員

三藩市地檢署的受害者服務部致力於在罪案發生後、刑事起訴期間和刑事訴訟後向受害者及其家人提供支持和援助,讓刑事司法系統能夠人性化和便利化。 無論案中的疑犯被捕與否,受害者服務部的倡導專員都能支援罪案受害者。 倡導專員協助受害者渡過法律程序、尋求賠償或彌補損失、獲得諮詢或轉介服務、并致力于支持受害者重新掌控自己的生活。

十名新的受害者倡導專員皆經過嚴格篩選後被聘用。他們每位都致力於為三藩市受害者提供援助並協助他們獲得權利。 他們目前正在接受為期一周的密集式培訓。

受害者服務部新政策增加受害者口譯服務

除了聘請精通多種語言的倡導專員外,地檢官博徹思也用其他方式來擴充受害者語言服務。 自 2021 年 6 月 23 日起,地檢署的受害者服務部實施了一項新政策,規定受害者倡導專員為希望出庭或旁聽,但不諳英語的受害者申請法庭口譯服務。

現大部分的司法管轄區,包括在新政策實施之前的三藩市,只會為抗辯被告、犯事的青年和需要出庭作證的受害者提供口譯服務,但在法庭旁聽的受害者卻沒有。新政策提高受害者在過程的參與度和法庭的透明度。

儘管瑪西法 (Marsy’s Law) 使受害者有權參與訴訟程序並聽取他們的意見,但在沒有法庭口譯員協助的情況下,許多受害者都無法有意義地參與過程。 新政策讓不需要出庭作證,但選擇參與旁聽的受害者,都能獲得法庭翻譯服務。

自地檢署在6 月實施新政策起,三藩市高等法院一直通力配合,應受害者倡導專員的要求為受害者提供法庭口譯員。 這也符合三藩市市縣的語言服務條例 (Language Access Ordinance)。

受害者服務部臨時主管兼助理地區檢察官李蕙儀說:「我自 2012 年以來,一直致力增加法庭內的語言服務,而作為受害者服務部的臨時主管,我也致力增加三藩市罪案受害者的語言服務。在大多數司法管轄區,英語能力有限的罪案受害者在法庭訴訟過程中一無所知,或被迫依賴懂英語的家人才得知狀況。 這政策維護受害者的權利,並改善受害者在複雜和駭人的法律程序中的體驗。 我們很自豪能夠成為加州首個為受害者提供口譯服務的司法管轄區之一,感謝法院和辛勤的法庭口譯員為受害者提供更多、更完善的語言服務。」

如果你是三藩市罪案中的受害者,請電郵victimservices@sfgov.org 聯繫三藩市地檢署受害者服務部。

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