May Brings Warmer Weather and New Opportunities
North Carolina in May brings warmer weather, azaleas and dogwoods and longer, often sun-filled days - a welcomed shift from a long and cold winter season. The turn of the calendar also brings the year’s political season - first primary elections followed by the 2018 legislative session. The North Carolina General Assembly convenes in mid-May to consider dozens of critical issues that are facing the state ranging from budget allocations for healthcare and education to environmental policies and constitutional amendments.
One of the important issues being considered is a constitutional amendment to strengthen rights for victims of crime. North Carolina is currently one of about 15 states that do not have constitutional level protections for victims of crime - including the right to have notification when the accused is released from prison or has a bail hearing; or the right to be heard during a trial or sentencing.
It’s common sense that a victim of crime be given at least the same rights as the attacker - but sadly, it is not currently state law. Marsy’s Law would make equal constitutional level rights for victims of crime statewide law. It’s not a partisan issue - Republicans and Democrats have reached across political lines to support this legislation. Last session, it passed the state House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. It can be considered as early as this month by the state’s Senate and then sent to voters statewide to consider it in the state constitution.
To-date, almost 45 local communities - towns and counties - have voted on proclamations in favor of Marsy’s Law. More than 60 of the state’s sheriffs - Republicans and Democrats - individually support the law. Voters in Ohio passed similar legislation last November by more than 80 percent and it’s on the ballot in four states already this year.
North Carolina victims deserve equal rights in the state constitution. The time is now; the momentum is building - urge the General Assembly to move forward with this important cause during this year’s legislative session.