Representatives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the renowned international civil rights and human rights organization, converged on Tallahassee today to announce the organization’s endorsement of Florida’s Amendment 6 – the crime victims’ rights amendment. Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, joined with area ministers who are also lending their support to Amendment 6, commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Florida. Speaking out on behalf of Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida were Dr. Steele; Dr. R.B. Holmes, Jr., Pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church; Lee Johnson, Pastor of Loved by Jesus Family Church; and Darrick McGhee, Sr., Pastor of Bible Based Church.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believes rights for crime victims are essential human rights. Protecting and strengthening crime victims’ rights falls in line with the organization’s mission of pursuing equality and justice. It has supported similar crime victims’ rights measures in other states.
“After experiencing a crime, the days and months that follow can be some of the victims’ darkest. Becoming a victim of a crime changes your life forever. The trauma, pain and fear associated with that life-altering event lasts long after the justice process concludes,” said Dr. Steele. “However, while they are navigating that justice process, crime victims should be able to take comfort in knowing they are guaranteed certain rights and protections. Amendment 6 provides that comfort and gives a voice to those who are currently silenced. We are proud to raise our voice in support of Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida.”
Florida is one of only 15 states that does not have clear, enforceable rights in its state constitution. Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would place a new set of specific rights in the state’s most powerful legal document This would replace the single, ambiguous sentence that currently exists in the Florida Constitution.
“I am standing firmly in support of Amendment 6, which advocates for victims’ rights. Persons who have been impacted by crime and criminals have the right to follow that case to its conclusion. As a matter of fact, Amendment 6 strengthens the case for Amendment 4. Victims must be respected, and when the persons who committed the crime had checked all the boxes, such as time served, paid restitution to the victim, off of parole and probation, then their voting and civil rights should be restored! Therefore, I am honored to stand with the national president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Charles Steele, and supporters of Amendment 6,” said Dr. Holmes.
Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would not take a single right away from the accused or convicted. Instead, it would provide crime victims with rights and protections similar to those already afforded the accused and convicted. Some of the basic, commonsense rights Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would provide crime victims include:
- The right to have standing in court
- The right to be present at all proceedings involving the case
- The right to reasonable and timely notice of proceedings
- The right to be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement or pardon
- The right to timely notice of any release, escape or death of the accused, if the accused is in custody or on supervision at the time of death
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay
- The right to timely information about the outcome of the case
“Dr. Steele is a giant in the civil rights movement and a global leader when it comes to human rights advocacy. To have him standing here with us today in Tallahassee in support of Amendment 6, alongside these great leaders and pillars of our community, is truly inspirational,” said 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission Member and Marys’s Law for Florida sponsor Tim Cerio. “I sponsored this amendment during the CRC process because it became clear there was a need for it. As we travelled around the state, we heard from victim after victim who felt ignored or left out of the criminal justice process. I’m so thankful for all the support we have received on this measure. And, on behalf of Marsy’s Law for Florida, I want to express my deep appreciation to Dr. Steele, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Holmes and all the ministers who stood by us today to say it’s time to give victims a voice.”
For more information on Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, visit marsyslawforfl.com