Ensure That Laws Cannot be Changed, Diminished or Ignored.
Rep. Jon Jacobsen from Council Bluffs, recently penned the following opinion piece in honor of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Rep. Jacobsen has been a longtime supporter of our efforts and we're thankful for leaders in the Iowa Legislature like him.
Gov. Reynolds recently declared April 7 – 13 as National Crime Victims’ Rights week in Iowa. This is a time to draw attention to Iowans who have been the victim of a crime, help support them in their recovery process and shine a light on legislative policies that can help strengthen a victims’ standing.
During my time in the Iowa Legislature, I’ve worked hard to ensure that victims have a level playing field and a voice in the criminal justice process. No one asks to become the victim of a crime and it should be one of the most basic tenets of our society to protect those victims.
This is why I support giving Iowa crime victims constitutionally protected rights.
Iowa is only one of 14 states that does not have rights in our constitution to protect victims of crime. There is an ever-growing coalition of Iowans – law enforcement, locally elected officials, legislators, county attorneys, victim survivors, and others – who support a crime victims’ rights amendment in our state.
These are fundamental rights that victims could come to expect at all times regardless of what county they live. Things like: the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, the right to be notified, be present and be heard at court proceedings, the right to reasonable protection from the accused, the right to notification of the release or escape of the accused, the right to restitution and the right to enforce these rights in the criminal justice process.
No victim should be made to feel that their rights are less than someone who perpetrated a crime against them. Putting rights for victims in our state constitution, right alongside the rights of the accused, would ensure that laws cannot be changed, diminished or ignored.
As the country celebrates National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we should reach out to those who may be hurting or struggling after being the victim of a crime. We should also push for change and encourage policies at all levels that give a voice to the victims in our state.
Rep. Jon Jacobsen