Row by row, family members of crime victims stood for a chaplain's blessing of their loved ones. Then, emotion turned to politics, as Nina Salarno-Ashford with Crime Victims United addressed potentially deep budget cuts facing the governor and state lawmakers.
Salarno-Ashford: "We as victims refuse to allow them to balance the budget on the back of crime victims and in jeopardizing public safety."
Governor Brown attended the entire ceremony. When it was his turn to speak, he issued what he himself called a "political advertisement."
Brown: "You can't run a prison, you can't run rehabilitation, you can't run parole and you can't run probation on hot air. You gotta run it with real money!"
Brown asked the crowd to lobby Republicans for his proposed tax extensions.
Call for Commutation Notification Bill
Rally speakers also heaped criticism on former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for commuting the sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Esteban Nunez was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for his role in the stabbing death of Luis Dos Santos. Luis's father Fred was among the speakers at Monday's rally.
Santos: "The justice system did not fail us. We went through the courts. They were sentenced to jail. Dirty politicians undid the sentencing! If you find a dirty politician, vote them out of office!"
Santos and other victims' rights advocates are backing a bill that would require the governor to notify victims' families before commuting a sentence.