Crime Victims For Justice?

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


In the fall of 2002, a group calling itself "Crime Victims for Justice" sent a questionnaire to candidates for office in Oregon. Because of the similarity of the names some candidates contacted us to ask what "Crime Victims for Justice" is all about. Here's the answer.

"Crime Victims for Justice" is a political action group that advances the agenda of criminals and criminal defense attorneys.

The aforementioned questionnaire, which clearly spells out the group's agenda, carries the heading "Rehabilitation, Restitution, Prevention". These are all fine things which Crime Victims United actively supports. But Crime Victims United also supports the other three values spelled out in Article I, Section 15 of the Oregon Constitution: protection of society, personal responsibility, and accountability for one's actions. "Crime Victims for Justice" has aggressively opposed measures to advance these values, leaving many victims of violent crime disgusted.

Among the items in their agenda which Crime Victims United opposes:

De-funding construction of prisons and work camps necessary to hold violent criminals and serious sex offenders accountable.

Grossly exaggerating the cost of prison construction.

Increasing the already large amount of taxpayer money devoted to indigent defense.

Portraying common-sense measures to protect victims and other law-abiding citizens as "stripping the Oregon Bill of Rights".

Removing crime victims advocates from the jurisdiction of district attorneys.

Demonizing prosecutors.

CVJ Directors

The directors of "Crime Victims for Justice" are:

Arwen Bird

Arwen Bird is a victim of a drunk driver who aggressively promotes a soft philosophy on crime. In 1999, she was the primary spokesperson for "Crime Victims for Justice" in a large-scale campaign, funded mostly by criminal defense lawyers, to oppose Measures 69 through 75.

Arwen Bird was largest individual contributor ($10,000, tied with Chip Shields) to the Measure 94 campaign, which would have retroactively slashed minimum sentences for violent criminals and serious sex offenders by one-half to two-thirds.

Brigette Sarabi

Brigette Sarabi is the executive director of the Western Prison Project, whose web page describes its mission as follows:

"Our core constituencies are those most impacted by the criminal justice system: prisoners, former prisoners, and families of prisoners."

William Shields

William "Chip" Shields is the director of Better People, a Portland-based organization that helps offenders stay straight and get employment.

Chip Shields was largest individual contributor ($10,000, tied with Arwen Bird) to the Measure 94 campaign, which would have retroactively slashed minimum sentences for violent criminals and serious sex offenders by one-half to two-thirds.

Floyd Prozanski

Floyd Prozanski is a former Oregon legislator. He was a prosecutor in Lane County and for the City of Florence. His sister was murdered in Texas in 1973. The murderer was set free based on a dishonest defense-attorney maneuver to deliberately taint evidence and mislead police. Despite this, Prozanski vigorously opposed legislative efforts to bring the rules of evidence in Oregon in line with the United States Constitution.

During the 2000 election, Prozanski was a chief petitioner for Ballot Measure 3, which changed the law on forfeiture in Oregon. The measure was opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It's passage forced the city of Portland to abandon its ordinance to impound the cars of repeat drunk drivers. In a voters' pamphlet argument, the Sheriffs of Oregon wrote: "Ballot Measure 3 is a wish list for all criminals."

CVJ Contributors

The following information come from campaign finance reports filed by "Crime Victims for Justice" with the Oregon Elections Division.

1999 Contributors

"Crime Victims for Justice" raised approximately $158,000 for the 1999 ballot measure campaign. Of that, approximately $122,000 was contributed by approximately 175 lawyers and law firms. Another $23,000 was contributed by the lawyer-dominated Oregon ACLU. Thus lawyers, law firms, or lawyer-dominated organizations contributed approximately 92% of the funds raised by "Crime Victims for Justice".

Here are the major financial contributors to "Crime Victims for Justice" from the 1999 election:

Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association Criminal Defense Lawyers $50,000
ACLU   $22,956
Miscellaneous lawyers  153 lawyers and law firms (mostly criminal defense) contributing $250 or less $20,990
John H. Hingson, III Criminal Defense Attorney $5,000
Ransom Blackman Criminal Defense Law Firm $5,000
Phillip M. Margolin Author and criminal defense attorney $5,000
Chip Shields Director of Better People $3,000
Leland R. Berger Criminal Defense Attorney $2,500
Arwen Bird Director of "Crime Victims for Justice" $2,500
Hoevet, Snyder & Boise, PC Civil and Criminal Defense Law Firm $2,500
Janet Lee Hoffman Criminal Defense Attorney $2,500
Gail L. Meyer Criminal Defense Attorney $2,500
Susan Elizabeth Reese Criminal Defense Attorney $2,500
David G. Terry Attorney $2,500
McRea PC Criminal Defense Law Firm $1,500
Jeni Feinberg Criminal Defense Attorney $1,000
James Hennings Criminal Defense Attorney $1,000
Emily Simon & Associates Criminal Defense Law Firm $1,000
David T. McDonald Attorney $900
Friends for Floyd Prozanski Political Action Committee $800
Pat Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney $750
Deborah L. Davidson Office Assistant $750
Gregory Hazarabedian Criminal Defense Attorney $600
Lawrence Baron Trial Lawyer, Former Criminal Defense Attorney $500
Bakker, Bender & Karpinski Criminal Defense Law Firm $500
Thomas A. Balmer Attorney and now Oregon Supreme Court Justice $500
Beery & Elsner LLP Law Firm $500
Merry A. Demarest Community organizer $500
William D. Dials Criminal Defense Attorney $500
Linda Eyerman Trial Lawyer $500
David J. Fidanque President, Oregon ACLU $500
Garvey, Schubert & Barer Law Firm $500
Michele Kohler Criminal Defense Attorney $500
Kenneth Lerner Criminal Defense Attorney $500
Myers & Knapp Law Firm $500
Wm. Bruce Shepley Attorney $500
Stephen S. Walters Attorney $500
Janet G. Webster Librarian $500
James. F. Halley Attorney $400
Anthony D. Bornstein Criminal Defense Attorney $350
John R. Potter Criminal Defense Attorney Assn. $325
Borg, Strom and Greenlick Criminal Defense Law Firm $300
Phil Studenberg Attorney $300

2002 Contributors

"Crime Victims for Justice" raised approximately $11,600 for the 2002 election campaign.

Here are the major financial contributors to "Crime Victims for Justice" in 2002:

William Shields Director of Better People $6,500
Arwen Bird Director of "Crime Victims for Justice" $2,500
James Curtis Father of convicted armed robber $2,000

1999 Ballot Measure Campaign

In 1999, seven measures related to crime victims' rights and criminal justice were on the ballot. They ranged from granting victims the right to be informed of hearings to ensuring that a sentence pronounced in court is carried out..

"Crime Victims for Justice" was created by defense attorneys and a small group of victims with a soft philosophy on crime for the purpose of opposing these measures. They aggressively fought all seven measures. In doing so they made extensive use of distortion, far-fetched scenarios, and demonization of prosecutors.

Among many other inflammatory and far-fetched statements, Arwen Bird wrote the following in the voters' pamphlet:

"I oppose all of these measures and hope that the citizens of Oregon can see through these cynical attempts to use crime victims to turn Oregon into a police state."

Distortions like this disgusted many victims and supporters of victims, who responded with strong letters.

Read more on the 1999 campaign.


See Also

Western Prison Project and Related Groups


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