Chief, CDCR Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services
Katie D. James: Chief of the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights & Services (OVSRS) at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), where she has served since 2020. Ms. James held several positions at CDCR from 2006 to 2020, including Assistant Chief and Staff Services Manager I and II at the OVSRS. She was an Associate Governmental Program Analyst for the Special Processing Unit of the Board of Parole Hearings from 2005 to 2006. She also held several positions at the Board of Prison Terms (Board of Parole Hearings) from 1996 to 2006, including Victim Assistance Coordinator and Executive Assistant.
In her career Ms. James has worked with thousands of victims and under her leadership, OVSRS has launched many services to enhance crime victims’ rights statewide – including automating email notifications of release, discharge from parole, parole board hearings and notification of an offenders transfer to another prison. OVSRS was one of the first victim serving agencies to establish the Instant Messaging “live chat” capability under their website. Her team has created the ability for victims to request services on-line and helped establish a portal for victims to make a reservation to participate in upcoming parole board hearings as well as to request unclaimed collected victim restitution. Since becoming Chief at OVSRS, Ms. James has increased staffing to assist additional victims throughout California, assembled a bilingual speaking team and upgraded the existing call center system to a web based system. With the expansion of staff, her team has been able to proactively reach out to victims prior to the offender’s scheduled hearing to assist with preparing them for participation in the hearing process – offering assistance with support, answering questions and referring them to various resources as needed.
Under her leadership, she expanded restorative justice practices for victims, their family members and communities to participate in programs such as the Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) program and the revitalized Apology Letter Bank (ALB) Program. OVSRS currently coordinates restorative justice grantees $1.5 million which provide mediation and facilitation for those that have been impacted and harmed by crime, giving them multiple ways to resolve their conflict while holding the incarcerated population accountable.
Ms. James was also the California statewide Victim Information Notification Everyday (VINE) System Coordinator for CDCR and assisted many counties with VINE related notifications and offender data services. Ms. James continues progressing forward using technology, passion and inclusion to meet the victims where they are in their time of healing and to offer them services, empowering them with knowledge, and a better understanding of the complicated post-conviction criminal justice process.