Equal Rights for Crime Victims Goal of New Constitutional Amendment
Columbus – Ohio crime victim rights advocates today will take the first step toward placing a constitutional amendment on the Ohio ballot – Marsy’s Law for Ohio. The proposed constitutional amendment ensures victims of crime and their families are provided with the same level of constitutional rights as the accused or convicted.
Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center Executive Director Catherine Harper Lee, Ohio MADD co-founder Andrea Rehkemp and Crime Victim Services Executive Director David Voth will present Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine with an amendment summary and the first 1,000 signatures necessary to begin the constitutional amendment process. Today’s petition submission will be followed up by an official Marsy’s Law campaign kick off in the coming weeks.
If voters approve the proposal bringing equal rights to crime victims, Marsy’s Law for Ohio would grant a series of constitutional protections to crime victims and their immediate families for the first time in Ohio’s history.
“Marsy’s Law will ensure crime victims receive equal protections and equal access to justice,” said Harper Lee. ”Far too many crime victims have been denied their most basic rights. Marsy’s Law corrects this injustice by informing crime victims of their rights, the status of their cases and receive notice of hearings that can impact their safety.”
Marsy’s Law for Ohio is also supported by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Columbus Chief of Police Kim Jacobs. “As a prosecutor, I see first-hand the devastating impact crime has on victims and their families,” said O’Brien. “Marsy’s Law for Ohio will ensure that crime victims are treated with the respect, fairness, and dignity they deserve.”
“The Division of Police believes that keeping victims informed is beneficial to their resilience and their ability to navigate the criminal justice process, and Marsy’s Law for Ohio provides the means to accomplish this,” said Chief Jacobs.
Under the Marsy’s Law for Ohio amendment, crime victims would have the right to notification of all proceedings as well as be guaranteed the right to be heard at every step of the process. Victims would have the right to have input on all plea deals for offenders as well as the right to restitution resulting from the financial impact of the crime.
Once approved by the Attorney General, signature-gatherers must collect 305,591 signatures by July 5 to place the issue on the November ballot.
The effort to place Marsy’s Law for Ohio on the 2017 ballot comes after similar ballot issues were approved in other states. In 2016, voters in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana all voted overwhelmingly for Marsy’s Law, joining Illinois and California as states where Marsy’s Law had already been placed into state constitutions.
The Marsy’s Law movement began in 1983, when a young woman named Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, had no idea the accused murderer had been released on bail.
In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Henry Nicholas has made it his mission in life to give victims and their families across the country constitutional protections and equal rights.