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
Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright has been a tremendous supporter of Marsy's Law for Iowa. In honor of this National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Sheriff Arganbright wrote the following opinion piece. Thank you for all you do for the people of Iowa and Guthrie County, Sheriff.
Being the Guthrie County Sheriff is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. I am reminded on a daily basis of the value of all law enforcement officials in our county and how we are the frontlines of many terrible situations.
A significant portion of my job is spent working with victims of crime and their families. Oftentimes, law enforcement is involved much deeper than simply investigating crimes. We work with crime victims and their families every day, many of which have never navigated the criminal justice system before. As we work with these individuals, we forge a connection and help to be their voice when they are not in a position to be heard. And too often, they’re not being heard.
Currently, Iowa has laws on the books to help protect victims of crime. These statutes give victims the right to be notified and present at any court proceeding, allow them the opportunity to be heard at sentencing and parole hearings, the right to reasonable protection from the accused, the right to be notified of any release or escape and the right to restitution.
Just statues are not good enough, victims deserve permanent rights they can count on, regardless of where they live. Victims deserve constitutional rights.
When I arrest someone, I must read them their Miranda Rights – the accused is afforded very permanent and clear rights in our state’s constitution – as they should be. But victims also deserve rights that carry the same weight. A victim should never feel like their rights are less than someone convicted of a crime against them.
Marsy’s Law would provide these constitutional rights to crime victims in Iowa. It would essentially take our good victims’ rights law and make it permanent and enforceable in our state’s constitution.
No one knows if or when they will become a victim of a crime. If something terrible ever happened to you or someone you love, wouldn’t you want your rights enshrined in the constitution? Wouldn’t you want to be sure you have the right to be heard – the right to be protected – the right to be notified – no matter what.
Sheriff Marty Arganbright
Guthrie County Sheriff
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.
Do you want to share your story? Send us an email at [email protected]
MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (April 9, 2019) —On Tuesday, the Henry County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on a resolution supporting Marsy’s Law for Iowa, an effort to strengthen victims’ rights in Iowa’s Constitution.
GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa (April 9, 2019) —On Tuesday, the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on a resolution supporting Marsy’s Law for Iowa, an effort to strengthen victims’ rights in Iowa’s Constitution.
April 7 – 13 has been designated as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week across the country. The Marsy’s Law for Iowa team has been gearing up for a special week of highlighting the challenges crime victims face every day and honoring the victim service providers that empower Iowa victims.
We have some fun and easy ways you can share in this special week with us.
-Light it up!
We’re turning some cool structures across the state purple with lights and we want to challenge homeowners to put a purple bulb in you outdoor lights to support victims of crime for the week. We will have some bulbs available – so let us know if you want to participate. We’ll ask you to take a picture and share on social with the #NCVRW2019 hashtag
Help us draw attention to this week with a letter to the editor in your local paper. Your voice is the most important when it comes to speaking out for crime victims. You can find more facts about the week here https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/ or let us know if you need some help.
We’ll be posting all kinds of photos, stories and videos from the week on our social media pages and our blog. Be sure to like the photos, share with your followers and give some encouraging thoughts for victims as the week goes on.
Thanks for your continued support.
As a college student at Drake University, I was looking for internship opportunities to enhance the work I was doing in the classroom, and let’s be honest, build my resume. I began working with Marsy’s Law for Iowa because I thought their cause was a good one and it allowed me to work in a somewhat political effort while still being nonpartisan.
What I gained from my internship far surpassed my expectations. Not only was I able to work on a variety of projects that truly expanded my work experience, but I was able to make connections to legislators, lobbyists, political professionals, and work with them to positively impact change in Iowa.
During my internship, I was able to have a lot of control over areas I wanted to work in. My supervisor allowed me the flexibility to be a part of different projects. I was able to hone my communications skills – both verbal and written, government skills like being able to read and articulate legislation, and grassroots skills – making phone calls to Iowans, working at human services events, talking to crime victims.
I worked with a great group of students my age, so it was a positive work environment and my supervisors went a long way to make us feel comfortable, have fun and also get insights on things we might not have otherwise been able to learn.
Interning with Marsy’s Law for Iowa was one of the highlights of my school year and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a meaningful internship.
Thanks for considering,
Drake University Class of 2020
Statewide polling has shown just how much Iowans support Marsy's Law for Iowa. In fact, 85 percent of Iowans support updating the state Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims. Even in the polarized political environment that exists today, putting victims’ rights into Iowa’s constitution enjoys huge bipartisan support.
The poll found that only 11 percent of respondents opposed Marsy’s Law for Iowa. There is also broad support of Marsy’s Law in Iowa regardless of gender.
Additional findings show that the voting behavior of Iowans will be impacted by a legislator’s position on the amendment. Significant support for Marsy’s Law proponents:
- 45 percent of Iowans say their legislators’ support FOR Marsy’s Law will affect how they vote in the election
- Among those Iowans, 84 percent would be MORE LIKELY to vote for legislators who SUPPORT Marsy’s Law
Opposition for Marsy’s Law opponents:
- 48 percent of Iowans say their legislators’ opposition to Marsy’s Law will affect how they vote in the election
- Among those voters, 87.5 percent of Iowans would be LESS LIKELY to vote for legislators who OPPOSE Marsy’s Law
It's clear Iowans believe the time has come to elevate victims' rights and give them permanent protection in our state constitution.
The Iowa Legislature meets every year where they study important issues, review existing laws and carry out the will of Iowans. Iowa has a citizen legislature, where their elected state representatives and senators are spending their winter months at the capitol during session, but the majority of their time is spent back home in their districts—living and working right alongside the constituents they represent. These folks see you around town, know you from community activities, have talked to you at the local coffee shop.
All of this means, your voice is the most effective way to create change.
Now is the time to make your voice heard.
On Wednesday, Feb. 27 we’re hosting a Marsy’s Law for Iowa Day on the Hill. This is your chance to directly advocate for Iowa crime victims. We will gather at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale at 10:30 a.m. where we will provide you a free lunch, training and transportation to the State Capitol to meet with legislators. You can join us at any time during the day and stay as long as you’re able.
If you are unable to join us on Wednesday but still want to be involved, visit our website’s Action Center to see how you can help. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on what we’re doing in your area.
Thanks for your support,
Marsy’s Law for Iowa State Director