Florida’s iconic old capitol building will be set aglow in purple lighting every night this week by Marsy’s Law for Florida in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), April 8 through 14. The purple lights are a reminder that victims should be entitled to equal rights and protections under the law.
Floridians who have been victimized by a crime do not have rights that are equal to those already afforded the accused and convicted. Marsy’s Law for Florida has been advocating for change by placing a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in the Florida Constitution through a proposed constitutional amendment. Proposal 96, currently under consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), would enumerate clear, enforceable rights and protections for victims in our state’s most powerful legal document.
“We’re shining a bright light on this issue because far too often victims are forgotten. Through no fault of their own, victims and their families are thrust into the criminal justice system. Once there, victims are often left without a voice, made to feel invisible, or worse, retraumatized by the process itself,” said Commissioner Tim Cerio, CRC member and sponsor of Proposal 96. “We’re lighting the old capitol purple this week to send a message: Florida victims should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week raises awareness of victims’ rights for one week during April. This year, NCVRW’s theme is “Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims” – emphasizing the importance of ensuring all crime victims, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation, have access to services and support. By celebrating NCVRW, Marsy’s Law for Florida hopes to educate Floridians about the gap that currently exists in our justice system, which ultimately leaves crime victims feeling voiceless and alone.
If passed by the CRC, and ultimately voters, Marsy’s Law for Florida would provide victims with basic, commonsense rights and protections, such as:
- The right to be present at any court proceedings related to their case.
- The right to speak at their perpetrator’s plea hearing or sentencing, especially if the outcome may result in the offender’s release.
- The right to know if the person who victimized them is about to being released from prison.
Marsy’s Law for Florida has garnered broad, bipartisan support from leaders across the state, including Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush, State Attorney Andrew Warren (13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County) State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle (11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County) State Attorney R.J. Larizza (7th Judicial Circuit, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties) State Attorney Dave Aronberg (15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County), State Senator Lauren Book, Florida Police Chiefs Association and Florida Sheriffs Association.
The measure is co-sponsored by CRC members: Patricia Levesque, Darlene Jordan, Fred Karlinsky, State Representative Jeanette Nuñez, Brecht Heuchan, Belinda Keiser, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and State Senator Darryl Rouson.
Last month, the full CRC voted in favor of Marsy’s Law for Florida. The measure will go before the full CRC again for a second vote and must receive a minimum of 22 votes in order to be placed on the 2018 General Election ballot. The proposal must be approved by 60 percent of voters to be placed in the Florida Constitution.
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.