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Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS)

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The Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) is a victim services program within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

What does OVSRS do?

OVSRS works to ensure crime victims and survivors are afforded the utmost respect in exercising their legal rights in the post-conviction process. OVSRS is responsible for providing information, restitution collections, outreach, training, and referral and support services to crime victims, survivors, and witnesses. OVSRS also handles most of the administrative details for victims/survivors participating in the parole process. Information about specific programs OVSRS oversees is available below.

OVSRS ofrece servicios bilingües en español. Support is available in more than 200 languages via phone.

Often, the first step to receiving information and services from OVSRS is to “register” for notifications. This process is described below.

For more information, visit the OVSRS website. 

Register with OVSRS

Victims/survivors can register with OVSRS for notifications of upcoming hearings or any change in the incarcerated person’s “custody status.” 

Once a victim/survivor submits this request, they are “registered” with OVSRS and will automatically receive updates of any of the following events:

  • Parole Hearing
  • Release
  • Death
  • Execution
  • Escape
  • Name/gender change
  • Contract

Victims/survivors may register with OVSRS at any time after the person who caused harm in their case is convicted and sentenced.

To register with OVSRS and request notifications: Follow instructions for submitting a CDCR Form 1707 “Request for Victim Services” to OVSRS here. (El formulario 1707 está disponible en español.) Victims/survivors may complete the form online, or print the form and submit it to OVSRS via mail, email, or fax. 

Victims/survivors may elect to receive notifications by email or mail, and must keep their contact information current with OVSRS to ensure they receive updates.

If a victim/survivor has requested notice, the California Board of Parole Hearings (Board) must notify them of an upcoming parole hearing at least 90 days before the hearing. 

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OVSRS Programs

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Accountability Letter Bank

OVSRS maintains an Accountability Letter Bank (ALB). The ALB allows incarcerated people to write thoughtful, appropriate remorse/apology letters to the victims/survivors in their case. This occurs with the assistance, and under the supervision, of trained facilitators in approved self-help programs. Once the letters are reviewed and approved, they are placed in the ALB and OVSRS notifies the victims/survivors in the case to ask if they would like to receive the letter. The victims/survivors choose if and when they would like to receive the letter.

Note: Only letters written through a qualified program are accepted in the ALB. Many incarcerated people write remorse/apology letters outside of an approved ALB program. The fact that a victim/survivor has not been notified of a letter in the ALB in their case does not mean that the incarcerated person has not written a letter.

More information about the ALB is available on the OVSRS website here.

Victim Offender Dialogue

A Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) is a process in which a victim/survivor, and the incarcerated person in their case, meet face to face in a safe and secure setting. A VOD can only be requested by the victim/survivor. Once it is requested, CDCR does a security screening to ensure the incarcerated person is eligible to participate, the incarcerated person must be willing to participate, and the case must be approved by OVSRS and the warden of the institution where the incarcerated person is housed. The case is assigned to a trained facilitator and there is a lengthy preparation process in which the facilitator conducts multiple meetings with the victim/survivor and the incarcerated person separately. Then the victim/survivor and the incarcerated person meet in person at the institution where the incarcerated person is housed.

For some victims/survivors, a VOD can be a significant source of healing and closure. Different victims/survivors have different goals in the process, but a VOD is an opportunity for the victim/survivor to be heard, and for the incarcerated person to listen and understand the harm they caused. A VOD is a very delicate and personal process and it is completely voluntary. A victim/survivor may change their mind or put the process on hold at any time and for any reason.

More information about the VOD process is available on the OVSRS website here.

Unclaimed Restitution

Many victims/survivors are entitled to restitution payments. This occurs when the offender has been convicted and sentenced to state prison, and there is a court order requiring the offender to pay a specific amount to a specific named victim.

CDCR collects restitution from incarcerated people, but often CDCR cannot distribute payments because CDCR does not have contact information for the specified victim owed restitution. This unclaimed restitution is held for the victim by CDCR while the person is incarcerated, and it is transferred to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) when the incarcerated person leaves prison. These entities will hold the restitution funds until they are claimed.

Specified victims owed restitution can come forward at any time to claim restitution collected on their behalf. A victim/survivor who believes they are owed unclaimed restitution can:

More information about unclaimed restitution is available here.

Anti-Harassment Support

Harassment of victims/survivors by incarcerated people is exceedingly rare. But if a victim/survivor believes they are experiencing harassment, they can contact OVSRS. OVSRS will take immediate action to initiate an investigation by the institution where the incarcerated person is housed and stop all unwanted contact.

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Contact OVSRS

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Victims/survivors may contact OVSRS with any questions or concerns. OVSRS can be reached in the following ways:

  • Email (victimservices@cdcr.ca.gov).
  • Call toll-free at 1-877-256-OVSS (6877).
    • Help is available in more than 200 languages through the California Victim Information Notification Everyday (VINE) system’s live operator support.
  • Connect directly with a Victim Services Analyst via Live Chat on the OVSRS website.

OVSRS ofrece servicios bilingües en español. Support is available in more than 200 languages via phone.