Letter: Victims rights must be consistent in Ohio
National Crime Victims Rights Week will be observed this year from April 24–30. The 2022 NCVRW theme is “rights, access, equity, for all victims.”
This theme underscores the importance of helping crime survivors find their justice through enforcing victims’ rights and reaching those underserved, such as with limited English, deaf or living with a disability.
As the director of court advocacy and staff attorney for Crime Victims Services, as well as an inaugural member of the Marsy’s Law for Ohio Advisory Board, I’ve seen firsthand what is lacking for victims of violent crime in our state — equitable enforcement of Marsy’s Law for Ohioans. If Ohio continues to apply the law vaguely and inconsistently between counties, it will continue to fail Ohio crime victims. We are very encouraged by the movement of HB 343 in the Ohio House, which will clarify language and rectify gaps in the law. Speaker of the House Bob Cupp was the original sponsor of this legislation, and we encourage you to reach out to him to thank him for his support.
Locally, Crime Victim Services served 4,456 victims in Allen County and 551 victims in Putnam County in 2021. Crime Victim Services provides free assistance and court advocacy to victims in felony, misdemeanor and juvenile cases. Advocates work closely with the local justice system to ensure that victims’ rights are upheld. This begins with law enforcement handing victims their Marsy’s Law rights card at the scene of a crime, which were created by Crime Victim Services. This assistance continues until the conclusion of the case, whether that be sentencing, appeal or potential parole release hearings.
Each Ohioan deserves dignity and respect, especially those who have suffered as a result of a crime. We hope that National Crime Victims Rights Week serves as a reminder to our community to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.