California Loses Public Safety Legend

Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:43am

Michael Salarno helped bring sweeping change to America’s criminal justice system

(Auburn, CA) – Crime Victims United co-Founder and longtime community leader Michael Salarno passed away this morning at his Auburn, California home. He was 82.

Michael Salvatore Salarno, Jr. was born and raised in Los Banos. He attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in Southern California and then St. Mary’s college in Northern California. Mike also served in the Navy during the Korean War, where he was wounded in battle and honorably discharged due to the extent of his injuries.

Following his time in the Navy, Mike enrolled at National College School of Engineering, where he met his wife Harriet who was attending neighboring University of Southern California. After graduation, Mike and Harriet moved to San Francisco where Mike opened a radio and TV store.

Mike’s life was characterized by strong devotion to his family , church and community. His concern for the youth in his community led him to frequently mentor troubled young men and help them turn their lives around.

Mike also routinely worked with Mayors and Council Members to support and improve neighborhoods and strengthen small businesses. He was president of the San Francisco Merchants Association and also served as a San Francisco Library Commissioner, a Juvenile Probation Commissioner, and a Parking Authority Commissioner under Mayors Christopher, Feinstein, and Jordan.

As the Chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, Mike collaborated with elected officials of both parties to support business and community needs. He counted among his friends former Mayors George Christopher, Joseph Alioto, George Moscone, Art Agnos, Frank Jordan, Willie Brown and (now U.S. Senator) Diane Feinstein.

September 3, 1979 changed forever the lives of Mike and Harriet Salarno. Their eldest daughter, Catina Rose Salarno, was senselessly murdered ‘execution style’ at the University of the Pacific in Stockton on her first day of school. She was only 18 years old. In the years that followed, the Salarno family endured the frustrations of a criminal justice system that tilted too heavily toward preserving criminal rights while barely addressing the rights and needs of victims and victims’ families.

Crime Victims United was born from Mike and Harriet Salarno’s passion to fix this problem and ensure no victims’ family would again experience the anguish of fighting their own criminal justice system. Mike Salarno’s legacy through Crime Victims United includes a long list of major public policy changes:

  • Proposition 35 (2012) fighting human trafficking;
  • AB 1844 “Chelsea’s Law” (2010) increasing penalties, parole provisions and oversight for sex offenders;
  • Proposition 9 “Marsy’s Law” (2008) adding 17 crime victims’ rights to the State Constitution;
  • Proposition 83 “Jessica’s Law” (2006) strengthening laws against sex offenders;
  • Defeat of Proposition 66 (2004) which would have weakened the 3 Strikes law;
  • Removing from office CA Chief Justice Rose Bird (1986);
  • Proposition 184 (1984) enacting the landmark “Three Strikes law;”
  • Collaborating with President Reagan’s historic Crime Victims Taskforce (1982);
  • Proposition 8 (1982) enacting a first of its kind “Crime Victims Bill of Rights;”
  • Establishing a victim’s right to be notified of parole hearings;
  • Establishing a victim’s right to be present and to participate in all phases of the criminal justice proceedings;
  • Establishing of a victim’s right to restoration; and,
  • Establishing that victims’ safety must be considered when determining bail.

Mike and Harriet Salarno shared a special 58-year marriage. Mike was the type of husband who would honor his wife in everything he did, including helping her put her coat on, pulling out her chair for her at the table, and holding the car door for her. He insisted on always making her coffee every morning and bringing it to her with the paper.

Mike is also survived by his daughters Regina Salarno-Novello and Nina Salarno-Ashford. He rejoins his beloved Catina Rose.

Condolences and communications can be sent to Crime Victims United, 11400 Atwood Rd., Auburn, CA 95603. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made the to the Catina Rose scholarship fund, a non-profit 501C3 foundation.