What is Marsy’s Law for Iowa?
Marsy’s Law is seeking to elevate key rights of crime victims into the state’s Constitution to ensure that victims have rights that are equal, in stature, to the constitutional rights of the accused and convicted. These constitutional protections for crime victims would include the following rights:
- 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.
Don’t we already have laws on the books to protect victims of crime?
Statutory rights are insufficient and illusory because they are not enforced and can be changed by simple majorities. Victims deserve to have constitutional protections, just as those who are accused and convicted.
Won’t this cost the taxpayers more money?
First of all, cost should not prevent us from doing what is right. Secondly, much of the infrastructure that is needed to carry out Marsy’s Law for Iowa is already in place. Many prosecutors’ offices already have ways to provide victims with notice and information. Other than notice, there is little or no cost involved in the rights being proposed.
Will this weaken the rights of the accused?
No. The rights proposed in Marsy’s Law for Iowa do not impede defendants’ rights. Those accused of a crime by the state continue to have every constitutional right they have always enjoyed, as they should. They are innocent until proven guilty.
Marsy’s Law for Iowa simply places basic rights in Iowa’s Constitution right alongside the rights of the accused. The rights of a defendant and a crime victim are not identical, but with Marsy’s Law, both will have permanence and constitutional standing.
Marsy’s Law is a partisan issue.
False – giving crime victims co-equal rights is a rare political issue that Republicans and Democrats are unified in supporting. In Iowa, legislation was co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion) and Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines). Additionally, the Iowa coalition has supporters in the law enforcement community and county attorneys from both parties.
FAST FACTS: Paul Cassell is a former United States federal judge, who is a professor at the law school of the University of Utah. Known as a well-respected expert in victims’ rights, Cassell is a key member of the Marsy’s Law National Policy team and explains some of the biggest questions surrounding Marsy's Law.