The Bipartisan Amendment: Victims’ Rights
The official start to election season is right around the corner as summer comes to an end. And this year in North Carolina, the talk isn’t about a candidate; it’s not about legislative elections or even county candidates. This year in North Carolina, the coverage is focused on a slate of six constitutional amendments that will be on the November ballot.
Unfortunately, most of the current attention has been around either partisan support - or opposition - of the entire group of amendments. Voters will have the opportunity to learn about these amendments as the election cycle heats up and it will be important that the facts speak louder than the noise.
For the victims’ rights amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, the facts will demonstrate that this amendment stands out from the others - providing stronger rights in the Constitution that crime victims don’t currently have. Marsy’s Law will give victims the right to speak and be heard during court proceedings. It will ensure that victims are notified when the accused and convicted have a change in custody status - including escape from prison.
There are opponents speaking out against victims’ rights claiming it is unnecessary - that victims already have enough rights in North Carolina. That claim is not based in reality when you consider that victims' rights are found in statute, while rights for the accused are in the Constitution. Simply put, in North Carolina today, defendants' rights carry more weight than the rights of victims.
Marsy’s Law will elevate victims to the same level in the state constitution - and take nothing away from the current constitutional rights of criminal defendants to have access to fair trials and due process.
Marsy’s Law passed the General Assembly by more than 150 yes votes in both chambers - Democrats and Republicans, including the leadership from both parties, voted in favor of this important amendment. It was debated and considered for more than a year among stakeholders in law enforcement and the court system - who endorsed the legislation. More than 50 local communities, towns, and counties across the state have resolutions supporting Marsy’s Law.
This amendment has broad support in North Carolina - Republicans and Democrats; rural and urban communities in the mountains and on the coast. North Carolina’s voters understand the importance of elections and will consider each one of the six amendments on its individual merits. For victims of crime and the families left behind, this is the most powerful vote that can be cast this election cycle.