Economic Study Finds Cost of Implementing Marsy’s Law Minimal Relative to State’s Overall Public Safety Budget


Dec. 18, 2017

Media Contact: Todd Dvorak, Strategies 360

(208) 340-6265, [email protected]


Economic Study Finds Cost of Implementing Marsy’s Law Minimal Relative to State’s Overall Public Safety Budget

BOISE – An economic analysis has determined that the cost of implementing Marsy’s Law in Idaho would be negligible and less than 1 percent of what the state spends on public safety each year.

The analysis, conducted by research economists with the firm ECONorthwest, estimates that the statewide cost of implementing the victim notification provisions in Marsy’s Law could cost $553,000 annually, a sum less than 0.2% of the $326 million allocated for public safety in Idaho’s fiscal year 2017 budget.

The estimate reflects a total for all 44 Idaho counties, but researchers determined the actual price tag would likely be less because many small counties would find ways to collaborate and share resources to meet victim notification requirements.

“From the outset, we’ve anticipated there would be minimal costs associated with strengthening and updating victims’ rights here in Idaho, and this study confirms that,” said Sen. Todd Lakey, a Nampa Republican and lead sponsor of Marsy’s Law for Idaho.

“This analysis leaves no doubt in my mind this a worthwhile price to pay to elevate and protect the voice, standing, and rights for victims in our state’s justice system. For those unsure about Marsy’s Law for economic reasons, now is the time to stand in support of crime victims,” Lakey said.

Marsy’s Law for Idaho is a proposed constitutional amendment designed to build upon the Victims’ Rights Amendment adopted by voters 23 years ago. In addition to providing additional notification for victims in cases when offenders abscond or escape from probation or parole, Marsy’s Law would give victims the right to confer with prosecutors and put victims’ rights on equal footing with those afforded defendants.

In their economic analysis, researchers used federal crime databases to determine the amount of violent crime in each Idaho county and conducted interviews with officials in prosecutor, sheriff, and courthouses in five Idaho counties of varied size and population. Researchers also conducted phone interviews with staff at Idaho’s Victim Information Notification Everyday (VINE), the state’s victim notification network.

Based on the crime data and interviews, researchers also determined:

  • The varied violent crime rates in counties means notification needs and demands differ from county to county;
  • Most, but not all, counties already use the Idaho VINE network to meet victim notification requirements;
  • Generally, victims of violent crime want to be notified about the status of the case and in varying degrees want to be involved in the process;
  • Law enforcement and justice officials do not believe additional notification requirements would be cost prohibitive;
  • Some counties are unlikely to experience any substantial increase in resources required to comply with Marsy’s Law given notification systems already in place;
  • The $553,000 estimate is based on projections that 13.2 additional FTEs would be needed statewide to manage Marsy’s Law notification requirements.

“The Idaho Board of Correction, staff, and employees are concerned for the victims of crime and committed to providing assistance while the offender is incarcerated and being held accountable for those crimes,” said Debbie Field, chairwoman of the Idaho Board of Correction. “Idaho has long been a leader in supporting victims and Marsy’s Law would take those rights to the next level in a way that the benefits outweigh the limited cost.”

Marsy’s Law for Idaho is affiliated with the national advocacy group, Marsy’s Law for All, which is dedicated to strengthening victims’ rights across the country. Marsy’s Law has been approved by lawmakers and voters in several states and the campaign is currently working in eight other states to enhance victims’ rights.

Written by and for Idahoans, Marsy’s Law has earned the endorsement of the Idaho Sheriff’s Association, the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police, the Idaho Victim Witness Association and the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, once approved by the Legislature, Marsy’s Law would then be placed on the ballot for the General Election in November 2018.



Marsy’s Law for Idaho is the Idaho chapter of the national advocacy group Marsy’s Law for All, which is dedicated to strengthening victims’ rights. The goal of Marsy’s Law for Idaho is to ensure the right of victims to have an effective voice in the criminal justice process. Victims are the individuals most harmed by crime and are sometimes an afterthought in our system— even though some rights are currently afforded through Idaho’s constitution and statute. A proposed constitutional amendment for victims’ rights, written by and for Idahoans, would not place any significant burden on state employees or those providing victim service support using state funds. Idaho once led the nation on victims’ rights. It was one of the first states to provide rights for crime victims. In November 1994, a state Constitutional Amendment on Victims’ Rights overwhelmingly passed with 79% of the vote. Over twenty years have passed, and more work needs to be done. In 2016, the Idaho Attorney General argued before the Idaho Supreme Court that neither the Idaho Constitution nor Idaho Statutes provided a mechanism to enforce victims’ rights (Mitchell V. State 160 Idaho 81 (2016)). It’s time for victims’ rights to be increased and strengthened in the Idaho Constitution, so Idaho can lead the nation once again.

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