SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he has signed SB 314 by Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) to enhance the state’s efforts to collect restitution fines for crime victims in a more efficient and thorough manner and increasing the amount a victim can receive for relocation assistance.

“Being a victim of crime is a life-altering experience that includes hardships most of us can’t even imagine,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am proud to sign this legislation to support victims of crime during their time of need.”

The legislation allows the state controller to deduct unpaid restitution fines for crime victims from the income tax refund of a person who owes the restitution. The bill also allows the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board to authorize the reimbursement of more than $2,000 for relocation assistance for victims, where the additional money is appropriate due to the unusual, dire or exceptional circumstances of a particular claim.

Governor Schwarzenegger has long been committed to protecting crime victims and has approved tough measures that protect victims and increase public safety, including:
· In 2006, the Governor created the new position of Crime Victim Advocate to serve as California’s lead advocate on state and federal policy impacting crime victims.
· In 2007, the Governor signed legislation that increases the victim notification requirement from 45 to 60 days when a sex offender leaves an institution and protects victims from repeated child abuse by prohibiting offenders from going within 35 miles of the child’s residence.
· In 2008, the Governor signed a series of bills that expanded rights for victims of juvenile offenders, increased protections for victim witnesses in sexual assault cases and improved the notification process for victims requesting a restraining order.
· Last year, the Governor also signed legislation providing victims with greater access to mental care services and to create a State Capitol Park memorial in honor of Californians who have been victims of a crime.

The Governor proclaimed April 26th through May 2nd of this year “Crime Victims’ Rights Week” in recognition of the hundreds of advocates who work endlessly to support victims in our state. In 1965, California became the first state to create a victim compensation program. Then in 1982, voters passed the California Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. And in November 2008, the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, also known as Marsy’s Law, was approved at the polls.