Victims’ Rights Advocates Introduce Ballot Initiative for
Consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission
Marsy’s Law for Florida, a crime victims’ group working to amend the state constitution to provide equal rights for crime victims, announced they will bring language before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) to place equal rights for crime victims on the 2018 ballot. The proposed amendment, once passed by the CRC and approved by the voters, brings assurance that victims of crime and their families are provided with enforceable constitutional protections, the same level that is afforded to those accused and convicted, nothing more and nothing less.
Pasco County Sheriff and CRC Commissioner Chris Nocco, along with Florida State Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) announced their support for Marsy’s Law through a video announcement that will be seen on social media and digital advertising. Sheriff Nocco and Senator Book will introduce the language to the CRC.
“My first priority as Sheriff of Pasco County is to prevent crime and keep our citizens safe,” said Sheriff Nocco. “When a crime is committed, the rights of the victim should be equal to the rights of the accused. This seems like common sense, but in Florida today, victims’ rights are not guaranteed. I’m bringing this language before the CRC because I believe my fellow commissioners and the citizens of Florida agree that victims of crimes should be treated fairly, with dignity, and the same Constitutional rights as the accused.”
Senator Book, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, founded Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit whose mission is to prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness and to support survivors as they heal.
“I’ve spent my life advocating for victims’ rights and I’m proud to support Marsy’s Law,” said Senator Book. “The pain a victim suffers in the aftermath of a crime is hard enough without being revictimized by the criminal justice system. Whether or not the system honors and protects the rights of a victim can be the difference between that victim achieving justice, healing, and survivorship, or feeling lost and let down – or even worse, completely ignored. Marsy’s Law will give each victim the promise of having their voice heard.”
Background on the Constitution Revision Commission
Florida’s Constitution is unique in that it allows a 37-member revision commission to meet every 20 years for the purpose of holding public hearings, reviewing the current constitution and proposing changes to the constitution for voters’ consideration. Its make-up consists of the Attorney General, 15 appointees from the Governor, nine appointees from the Florida Senate President, nine appointees from the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and three appointees from the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. Any amendments approved by the CRC will be placed on the 2018 General Election ballot and will require 60 percent approval by the voters for passage. Any amendment passed will be added to the Florida Constitution.
Background on Marsy’s Law for Florida
While most states provide crime victims with constitutional-level protections, Florida remains one of only 15 that does not. Once adopted by the voters, Marsy’s Law will grant constitutional rights to crime victims on par with those provided to the accused and convicted, including:
Marsy’s Law Rights
Marsy’s Law will guarantee that victims receive certain rights in a number of important ways including:
- informing victims and their families about their rights and the services available to them,
- giving them the right to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in a criminal case,
- protecting their safety by notifying them in a timely manner regarding changes to the offender’s custodial status,
- allowing victims and their families to exercise their right to be present – and heard – at court proceedings,
- providing input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized; and
- establishing the right to restitution from the convicted.
About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.
Since California’s passage of the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, Marsy’s Law legislation has also succeeded in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois.
For more information on the Marsy’s Law initiative, please visit https://marsyslaw.us, and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
More information is available online at https://marsyslaw.us/marsys-law-state-efforts/florida/.