Nina Salarno Besselman
Nina Salarno Besselman has 26 years of criminal justice experience, fighting for victims and families, and putting dangerous career criminals behind bars. She served as Deputy District Attorney in the Placer, Sacramento and Tulare District Attorney’s Offices, leading the Sexual Assault Unit in Placer County and the Domestic Violence Unit in Sacramento County. During her time as a prosecutor, she never lost a case.
In 1999, she was appointed to the newly created Office of Victims Services in the Department of Justice, where she formed the structure and vision of this agency for years to come. Upon the birth of her daughter, she left the AG’s office for private practice. Here, she focuses on family law, criminal cases and parole hearings, and assumes a leadership role in numerous non-profit groups dedicated to public safety and victims’ rights.
Nina was born and educated in San Francisco, and admitted to the State Bar in 1992.
At A Glance
- 26 Years of criminal justice experience
- Co-author, California’s AMBERT ALERT program to immediately publicize child abductions, enabling the public to help police locate missing children. The law has helped recover more than 200 children since its passage in 2002
- Co-Author/Advocate, Prop 9/Marsy’s Law, the California Victims’ Bill of Rights
- Developer, California Victims Notification Program
- Author, Death Penalty Handbook: A Guide for Crime Victims
- President, Crime Victims United
- Proponent, Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2020
- Secretary/Treasurer, California Public Safety Partnership
- Director, campaign to defeat Prop 66, which sought to weaken the Three Strikes law (2004)
- Director, Office of Victims Services, Attorney General’s Office (2000-02)
- Lead Prosecutor, Domestic Violence Unit, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney (1996-2000)
- Prosecutor/Head of Sexual Assault Unit, Placer County Deputy District Attorney (1994-95)
- Criminal Justice Instructor, Sierra College (1994-95)
- Prosecutor, California Peace Officers, Standards and Training (POST) (1994-2002)
- Prosecutor, Tulare County Deputy District Attorney (1992-94)
In addition to her professional efforts, Nina volunteers for several groups dedicated to assisting victims and enhancing public safety. She serves as:
- Executive director for Californians United for Public Safety;
- Project Director for Beyond Missing, a law enforcement resource for creating and distributing missing children flyers;
- Executive Board Member for Crime Victims United, which gives a voice to victims who don’t have one.
Nina is also active in the following organizations:
- Auburn Women in Networking (2019)
- President (2020), Auburn Old Town Business Association (2019 to present)
- Auburn Chamber of Commerce (2019 to present)
- Founder/Director, All American Rib Cookoff (2017 to present)
Honors & Awards
Nina has been repeatedly honored for her dedication to the cause of victims’ rights. She has received the following:
- California Correctional Peace Officers Association’s John Wayne Crime Fighter Award
- Orange County Award for writing California’s Amber Alert
- Advocate Angel award from the KlaasKids Foundation
- National Business and Professional Women’s Organization’s Young Careerist for Placer County
Nina’s Passion to help Crime Victims
Nina Salarno Besselman’s career as a stalwart victims’ rights advocate began in 1980 when she testified before President Reagan’s Task Force on Crime Victims. She was 12.
Her youthful testimony grew out of a family tragedy – the execution-style murder of her oldest sister Catina in 1979. Nina told the panel that trauma became even more painful for the family during the legal process that followed. As victims, they found they had no voice and no rights. The killer was convicted of 2nd degree murder – and since then Nina has successfully argued at 9 parole hearings to keep him in custody.
That terrible experience forged Nina’s lifelong commitment to serving crime victims and their families.