This represents the total number of felony convictions in Kentucky — for 2017 alone. We know there is at least 1 victim in each of those cases, and many have more than 1.
Unfortunately, those nearly 24,000 Kentuckians in your communities have inadequate rights, or in some cases no rights at all, in the criminal justice system — a system in which, today, they are mere witnesses.
Currently, Kentucky provides only statutory protections for crime victims. As you know, statutory protections are not legally as strong as the many constitutional protections that are provided to the accused or convicted.
This imbalance means that victim’s statutory rights are often overlooked. And when this happens, it makes victims feel as if they are standing outside of the process, when in fact the system should be just as focused on them as it is the defendant. Senate Bill 3, known as Marsy’s Law, seeks to change that.
After more than 2 years of hard work, stakeholder meetings and input, and thorough scrutiny by the General Assembly, we have arrived at Senate Bill 3, and its companion, Senate Bill 30. A bill supported by dozens of groups like the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Mary Byron Project, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the KY FOP, the KY State Police Professional Association, and the Kentucky League of Cities — and by hundreds of leaders across the state, including some of you.
So what are the rights?
- The right to NOTICE OF PROCEEDINGS, of RELEASE or ESCAPE
- The right to BE PRESENT
- The right to PROCEEDINGS FREE FROM UNREASONABLE DELAY
- The right to CONSULT WITH THE PROSECUTION
- The right to REASONABLE PROTECTION FROM THE ACCUSED
- The right to CONSIDERATION OF VICTIM SAFETY WHEN SETTING BAIL/RELEASE
- The right to RESTITUTION
- The right to FAIRNESS and CONSIDERATION OF THE VICTIM’S SAFETY, DIGNITY & PRIVACY
- The right to BE INFORMED OF THESE RIGHTS
…And critically, the victim is granted STANDING to assert these rights.
In short, Marsy’s Law creates a criminal justice system that finally recognizes the victim as an equal. In the words from a friend of mine who is a Judge from Georgia who saw that I filed Marsy’s Law: “SB 3 completes criminal justice reform. Reduce reoffending by putting a real face to the crime – the victim’s.”
I'm excited to report that as of this writing SB 3 has passed committee (unanimously) and became the first bill to pass the Kentucky Senate in 2018 (35-1), and now heads to the House for consideration. If it makes final passage in the Legislature it then heads to the ballot this November for all Kentucky voters to make their voices heard!