North Carolina – Like Other States – Supports Strengthening Victims’ Rights
The Marsy’s Law victims’ rights campaign is building momentum nationally – with a recent landslide bipartisan victory in Ohio and campaigns kicking off in additional states including Florida and Pennsylvania in 2018. Citizens across the nation want to see victims of crime equally represented in state constitutions.
But like any issue, with increased education, progress, and success in achieving this important goal on behalf of victims of crime, there are unfortunately still groups who will fight for the status quo – even if it means victims don’t get equal treatment in the eyes of the law. Sadly, there will always be some organizations and people who don’t believe victims of crime deserve equal constitutional protections as their offenders.
North Carolina is no different than the other states facing these important choices. When the North Carolina state House voted on Marsy’s Law last spring, it was bipartisan and overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation to strengthen state law on behalf of crime victims. In a recent survey, North Carolina voters across political affiliation agree that it’s a priority to give victims of crime equal rights as their offenders. These rights include victim notification of an accused attacker being released on bail – or even something as obvious as guaranteeing notification if the convicted attacker escapes. Marsy’s Law will also allow for victims – and their families – to have the right to speak at a hearing about the crime if they choose.
What seems like common sense for victims is not currently guaranteed by law in North Carolina. It’s not a theoretical debate, it’s one that impacts victims of crime on a consistent basis. The Marsy’s Law for NC campaign has spent the past months covering every corner of the state, speaking to elected officials and citizens about this issue.
During that time, the team has spoken to victims of crime who have shared their real-life stories about how crime has affected their lives. Heartbreaking first-hand stories including a father who lost his son to homicide and was not heard in the court process before the accused was released for lack of evidence; a mother who was attacked while sitting on her front porch – only to learn that the accused had been let out of custody without her knowledge; another parent who learned that his son’s convicted murderer had been moved to a lower-security prison setting without any notification to the family.
These examples are not things that could happen, they did happen – to fellow North Carolinians. These stories could happen to our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, or work associates. It’s in the hands of the General Assembly to bring Marsy’s Law to a quick vote, and then send it to North Carolina citizens to decide, joining other states that have recently agreed that victims of crime deserve the dignity and respect of protection in a Constitutional guarantee.