The Nov. 6 ballot includes, as Question 4, a proposed state constitutional amendment that “provides rights for victims of crime in the judicial process.” The Reporter Newspapers asked two advocates to explain the pro and con arguments on the question, which is commonly known as “Marsy’s Law.” For the commentary in opposition to the amendment, click here.
This November, when you head to the polls, you will not only be voting on your legislators; you will also be asked to vote on a number of state and local measures. One section of the ballot will include five state-wide constitutional amendments. Of these five, the fourth amendment, is a victims’ rights initiative known as “Marsy’s Law.”
Here’s a brief description of this amendment and the reasons why I supported it in the state Senate.
The purpose of “Marsy’s Law” is to outline a victim’s bill of rights to ensure that victims are aware of any information pertinent to their offender in a court case. It will give victims the right to know information about the case and the offender and the right to be heard through the criminal process.
Victims will have the right to request the court and release dates of their offenders; the right to be notified of any rulings in the case; and the right to decide whether or not they want to be part of the criminal proceedings.
Companion legislation also allows victims to petition prosecuting attorneys in writing to be notified of all proceedings.
Under current statute, these rights are present, but not enforced. By putting “Marsy’s Law” into the state Constitution, we are ensuring that victims of a crime have rights and can use their voices to be made certain that their rights are adhered to.
Because this amendment deals with the rights of criminals and victims, I want to assure you that this is a measure to protect victims and will not create a layer of legal issues. This law will not undermine defendants’ rights or law enforcements’ authority.
The sole intention behind this measure is to ensure that victims feel safe by knowing the status of their offender through each step of the legal process.
I hope that this gives you insight on why I supported the legislation known as “Marsy’s Law” and how I believe that Amendment Four will allow victims of a crime to meaningfully participate in criminal proceedings, have their voices heard, and ensure that courts are held accountable in enabling victims to feel protected.
–State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) represents the 42nd District, including part of Brookhaven.