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LETTER: Crime victims deserve equal rights

Dear Editor,

My brother, Jeremy Allen, was shot and killed by Michael Coffman at the Ottumwa High School on July 25, 1994. At the time, Coffmann was 16, almost 17, with a criminal background of violence. He was tried as an adult because he had already been through the juvenile system and they could no longer help him.

 

 

Marsy’s Law for Iowa Features “Highlight the Right” Campaign

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

DES MOINES, Iowa (Jan. 19, 2021) —For the past two months, Marsy’s Law for Iowa has engaged in a “Highlight the Right” campaign, which utilizes social media, informative videos and live discussions to outline the proposal for a crime victim rights amendment to the state constitution.

 

 

Wholeheartedly Support

I have been in law enforcement for 30 years, and I have seen firsthand how the victims of violent crimes have so much trauma from the incident, that they need to have rights equal to the offender. For this reason, and many others, I support Marsy’s Law for Iowa and encourage the Iowa Legislature to move forward on this issue.

 

Marsy’s Law for Iowa would provide constitutional protections for crime victims in our state – things like the right to be notified of the status of the offender, the right to restitution, the right to be involved in court proceedings, among other things. Marsys’ Law would elevate these rights and also ensure they could never be stripped down or changed depending on who is in charge at the state capitol.

 

We must make sure that should an innocent person become the victim of a crime they know that they will be treated with dignity, respect and fairness when they are thrown into the criminal justice system, processing the most traumatic incident of their life.

 

I wholeheartedly support Marsy’s Law.  

Protecting and Serving

While the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down operations for many organizations around the state, the Marsy’s Law for Iowa law enforcement coalition has been expanding.  

 

Over the spring, summer and fall, our law enforcement coalition has added even more key, influential voices who are speaking up for victims and stand ready to help move legislation forward during the 2021 session.

 

Highlight the Right: Safety

The right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse

The right to reasonable protection from the accused or convicted

The right to have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in setting conditions of release or transfer

 

Protecting ourselves and our family after a violent and traumatizing experience is at the core of our humanity. But when victims of crime are thrust into a confusing, sometimes threatening and arduous criminal justice system, the ability to secure meaningful protection for themselves and their families is lacking in our Iowa laws. Iowa currently has no constitutional rights for victims of crime and the statutory rights that do exist[i] to protect a victim against further harm lack any true mechanism for enforcement. These inadequate protections act as false hope for victims turning to the government for support and protection as they seek justice for their trauma.

 

Capitol Chat with Rep. Marti Anderson

The 2021 Legislative Session is quickly approaching, and we want to continue highlighting the work we've been doing over the past several months to remind legislators that the current law on the books is not adequate for survivors of crimes.