Iowa needs Marsy's Law to guarantee rights of crime victims like me

One of our Marsy's Law for Iowa supporters, Dalene, got busy writing during National Crime Victims' Rights Week and submitted this opinion piece to the Des Moines Register. 



Here's an excerpt:

"The lack of knowledge and compassionate understanding of what it means to be a crime victim causes the victim to be re-victimized over and over again. I am no exception."


Thank you Dalene, for bravely sharing your story and using your voice. We stand with you.


You can read the full submission below:

According to US News & World Report, Iowa is the best state in the nation. The findings, based on eight categories, are something of which every Iowan should be proud. Numbers help to judge our progress or our stagnation.


One of the lesser impressive rankings for our state is that we are only one of 14 states that does not currently have victims’ rights enshrined in our state constitution. We can ensure this happens by passing Marsy’s Law – a victims’ bill of rights for our constitution.


On May 17, 2012, my husband was shot to death in the parking lot of his workplace in Des Moines, as was his co-worker. The now-nearing seven years has been a trial not with a jury of 12, but a jury of all who have no idea what it is the victim goes through following such an ordeal. The lack of knowledge and compassionate understanding of what it means to be a crime victim causes the victim to be revictimized over and over again, and I am no exception, as are countless others.


Crime Victim advocates do everything in their power to help, up to their boundary limits. The courts do what they can by issuing compensation in word only – compensation is not restitution. Compensation is what is paid to the surviving victim from the perpetrator’s prison wages. In my case, my average quarterly check is $87. Needless to say, I will never see the $150,000 granted me by the judge. This is a huge misrepresentation of the definition of compensation. The system fails.


The Vine is meant to be a communication tool between the State of Iowa and surviving victims. Clearly, my understanding of The Vine was that I would be notified prior to a situation whereby the perpetrator’s status would change - appeals, parole, etc. I found out that the man who shot my husband seven times was moved to Anamosa from Ft. Madison, per his request. Efforts to get him moved back to Ft. Madison are in vain, and again, revictimizations are the end result. The system fails.


Marsy’s Law guarantees victims’ rights to be heard at hearings and proceedings, the right to protection, notice of release of the convicted, and the right to restitution.


April 7-13 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to focus on victims and to support them on the long road to recovery. I can think of no better way to stand in solidarity with victims than to ask that you support Marsy’s Law, ask your elected officials to support Marsy’s Law, and spread the word about Marsy’s Law, so that it can be victims can have rights enshrined in our state constitution.

Make your voice heard! Get involved! Support Crime Victims by supporting Marsy’s Law.


Dalene Davies-Smoot



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