Latest News

Stay up to date on Marsy's Law for Iowa's weekly blogs/news.

We Can Do This Together

“Thank you for letting me come to the capitol with you.”

 

That was the message we received from Shal, a crime victim survivor and our friend, who devoted her entire Tuesday to traveling to the State Capitol and talking to legislators about the need for a crime victims’ rights amendment in Iowa.

 

All we could do was hug her and say, “No Shal, thank YOU.”

 

There is no better person that a legislator can hear from than a constituent, an Iowan who has been thrown into the criminal justice process in our state and has the firsthand experience of what a nightmare it really is.

Since the legislature has started their 2020 session, we are organizing “Takeover Tuesdays” – getting groups of people together who are interested in changing our system for the better, giving crime victims’ constitutional rights.

 

We understand that not everyone can take time off work or school to drive to Des Moines and talk to their legislator. That’s okay – there are other ways you can get involved. It’s as easy as a click of your mouse to send an email to your legislator, you could pick up the phone and give them a call, you could pull them aside at a local forum in your town, you could even just sign our online petition – no action is too small, no work is too insignificant.

 

We know brave survivors like Shal are the backbone of this organization. But the rest of us must follow their lead and push for change, for our voices matter too. At any given moment someone we love may become the victim of a crime and be thrown into a criminal justice system that favors the convicted. Now is the time for a crime victims’ rights amendment and we need your help.

 

 

Takeover Tuesdays

The start of the 2020 legislative session gets underway next week, and I could not be more excited about it.

Arm-in-arm with the best volunteers and interns, our team has worked all summer and fall to lay the groundwork to have a successful session at the capitol.  The only way we will be able to move this monumental piece of legislation forward is with your help. Constituent voices like yours are critical in demonstrating the importance of constitutionally protecting Iowa’s crime victims. Legislators want to hear from their neighbors, from survivors, about how badly this is needed.

 

Starting on Jan. 21st, I will be organizing supporters like you to join us at the statehouse to meet with legislators on every Tuesday of the week — I’m calling it “Takeover Tuesday.”

This kind of outreach to your elected officials is a simple process, yet extremely effective. You should not feel intimidated to get involved.

Here’s what you can expect:

      -Show up at the Capitol building on Tuesday and find our team in the rotunda (you can’t miss us in our purple shirts). Stay all day or as long as you’re able. Even a quick stop over your lunchbreak is helpful.

      -We will help you find your state representative and senator and submit a slip of paper, requesting a meeting.

      - Your elected official will come out of their respective chamber to speak with you. This will be an easy conversation where you introduce yourself and explain why you are at the Capitol advocating for a crime victims’ rights amendment.

      -The legislator will listen to you respectfully, provide any feedback and you will leave literature with them, which we will provide for you.

 

We’d love to have you join us every Tuesday at the capitol.  If you feel more comfortable attending a local legislative forum in your hometown, we can accommodate that as well.  Please reach out to me directly at llarson@marsyslaw.us or (515) 505-0737 for more information or to sign up today. Together we can make sure crime victims receive the protections they deserve.

 

Thank you for your help – Levi.

 

Meet Leah

Hello! I’m Leah and one of the Field Directors for Marsy’s Law for Iowa. I am excited for this opportunity to work toward equal rights for crime victims in Iowa.

I am a graduate from the University of Northern Iowa, with a degree in Interactive Digital Studies with an emphasis in Digital Imaging and Digital Visualization, and with a minor in Graphic Technologies. My past work experience includes graphic design work at a digital marketing company, and at a Fortune 500 company.  In addition, I was an event designer at Conference Event Management for marketing and client’s event communications, which also included responsibilities in planning events, being an on-site trip director, building client website, attendee management and other event needs. I’ve also supported other small businesses and non-profits as a Freelance Graphic Designer.

My desire to make a difference brought me to Marsy’s Law for Iowa. Since 2012, I have been very heavily involved with my family through a non-profit founded by my brother, Opportunity on Deck.  This organization serves Central Iowa communities by providing free-of-charge meals and athletic opportunities for children in nine different sports, summer camps, and through college visits and scholarships – all at no cost to the participants. Through Opportunity on Deck, I gained experience in marketing, graphic design, website building, organizational development, leaderships, coaching and mentoring.

I am eager to use my desire to make a difference, to use my skills, and grow as a result of working for Marsy’s Law for Iowa.

 

Welcome to the team, Leah! You can reach her at ldeclerck@marsyslaw.us

HoliDay of Action

We know this time of year can be busy with holiday parties, school concerts, volunteering, gift-giving and everything in between. It’s also a time when legislators are meeting with constituents, gathering ideas for the next legislative session which begins in January.

We want to make sure a crime victims’ rights amendment is a priority for our state legislators when they head back to Des Moines which is why we are having a HoliDay of Action. Every day, we are seeing new supporters come on board to help in our efforts, and we want to make another push to get more supporters who will contact their legislators, asking them to move forward on our bill. 

 

On Tuesday, Dec. 17, we will work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., reaching out to Iowans across the state. We will also be stamping and labeling postcards that have been signed by supporters that will be mailed to legislators during session. At the end of the day, we'll host an open house with refreshments and prizes (more info to come). 

Would you be willing to help us? We understand it’s a busy time of the year, but even a 30-minute shift will help us push a crime victims’ rights amendment forward. You can come into our office in Des Moines, or it’s something that can be done from your home.

 

Please let us know if you have any questions and if we can count on you to help with our Day of Action on December 17.

Advancing Rights for Iowa Victims

Our team recently had the opportunity to present the “Guardian of Victims’ Rights” award to two tremendous legislators who have been working with us on behalf of Iowa crime victims for quite some time. You may recall, we presented a Guardian of Victims' Rights Award to Rep. Marti Anderson earlier this fall. 

From day one, Rep. Megan Jones from Sioux Rapids has been a crucial supporter of victims’ rights in Iowa. We’re thankful for her willingness to speak with Iowa crime victims and continue to press this issue forward in the legislature.

 

Sen. Zach Whiting from Spirit Lake has put victims over politics and worked to bring the issue of crime victims’ rights to the forefront at the capitol. Iowa crime victims have come to rely on Sen. Whiting’s unwavering support and for that, they are truly grateful.

 

We joined with some of our local supporters to present the awards to these deserving legislators. You can see them pictured here -our staff Levi and Sarah along with the Clay County Sheriff Chris Raveling are pictured with Rep. Jones. 

 

Former Dickinson Co. Victim Witness Coordinator and current County Treasurer Kristin Rowley, Spirit Lake Police Chief Jeff Hanson, Dickinson County Sheriff Greg Baloun, Arnold’s Park Police Chief Alan Krueger and our staff person Levi Larson are here with Sen. Whiting. 

 

Thanks again to these dedicated public servants who are standing up for Iowa crime victims. We look forward to presenting even more awards in the future. 

 

A Gala to Remember

Last week, our team had the honor of attending the annual fundraising gala for Argrow’s House in Davenport. If you remember, Argrow’s House and Marsy’s Law for Iowa have been working hand-in-hand to pass a victims’ rights amendment in our state.

 

We were proud to be a sponsor and attend this lovely evening. It was fun, educational and eye-opening.

We heard from Christian Rainey, the Executive Director of M.A.D USA, Inc. (Men Against  Domestic Violence). He helped to illuminate how young boys and girls who grow up in homes where domestic violence occurs psychologically associate that domestic violence with love and think it’s healthy. His organization aims to combat that notion by educating high school students about what healthy relationships really look like.

 

We also met Bill Jenkins, author of What to Do When The Police Leave: a guide to the first days of traumatic loss. Bill’s 16-year-old son, William, was shot and killed as a part of an armed robbery at the local restaurant where he worked in 1997. Bill was able to help our team see the real-life struggles of crime victims when they are afforded no voice in the legal process. Bill was also an integral part of passing Marsy's Law in Illinois. 

One of the biggest highlights for the Marsy’s Law team was meeting some of the women who are employed, making soap and bath products, by Argrow’s House. The women each make $11 per hour and as employees of Argrow’s House, they’re given the means and support to leave their unsafe situation.

It was an incredible night that our team will not forget. The best news of all: Argrow’s House made a huge dent in paying off their $40,000 mortgage on their house! They are still collecting donations and soap sales to help fully pay it off. They make great corporate gifts or gift bag type gifts! Here is the link to the list of retailers who sell Argrow’s House soaps. Thank you for supporting this worthwhile cause.

 

Sarah Shambrook

Political Director

Marsy’s Law for Iowa  

 

Guardian of Victims' Rights

Recently we announced we would be presenting the “Guardian of Victims’ Rights” awards to Iowa leaders who have been instrumental in fighting for crime victims’ rights. We presented the first award to Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) for her lifelong dedication to helping advance crime victims’ rights.

 

It’s only fitting that Rep. Anderson is the first honoree of the Guardian of Victims’ Rights award as her entire working life has been committed to helping victims of crime. Whether it was her time as a social worker, director of the Polk County Victim Services or the founding director of the Iowa Attorney General’s Crime Victim Assistance Division, no one brings more dedication or experience to this issue than Marti.

 

Our team was able to present the award to Rep. Anderson at her legislative coffee. Pictured here presenting the award is Marsy’s Law for Iowa supporter Tiffany Allison from Des Moines, Marsy’s Law for Iowa victim coordinator Mary Kate Leister, Marsy’s Law for Iowa political director Sarah Shambrook, and Rep. Marti Anderson.

 

 

 

Rep. Anderson said, “Throughout my professional career, I’ve worked with victims, advocates, and lawmakers to establish rights and services for crime victims. What is needed now is permanency and constitutional standing for those legal rights. We cannot chance that a future legislature will take away a victim's right to be notified, present, and heard regarding the criminal case. We must take the next step and pass a crime victims’ rights amendment to our constitution.”

 

Thanks for all you do for crime victims, Rep. Anderson!

Hard Working Interns

Now that summer has come and gone and all the kids are back at school, we wanted to share an update from our interns who were with us for the summer. These students (both college and high school) brought a ton of enthusiasm, determination and FUN to our office over the past few months. They absolutely made a difference in our efforts. While we are sad to see them go we know they have great futures ahead of them.

 

We asked one of our interns, Dylan, to share some insights on his experiences with us this summer. If you might be interested in interning with us during any time of the year, please contact Sarah at sshambrook@marsyslaw.us for more information.

 

 

Empowered Survivors

A few months ago, I noticed a post on social media about a woman from Davenport who was surprised with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities.

 

Dr. Kit Ford, founder of Argrow's House, was being recognized in Washington, D.C. for her incredible effort to “multiply good” in her community, in our state and country.

Shortly thereafter, I reached out to Dr. Ford on a swing through eastern Iowa, where I was meeting with Marsy’s Law for Iowa supporters and making new connections. Dr. Ford graciously agreed to meet with me and learn more about our efforts in Iowa to give victims of crime constitutional rights.

It was during that trip that I was able to tour Argrow’s House in Davenport and get a firsthand understanding of Dr. Ford’s incredible impact on the community and the life-changing experience she is offering for survivors of abuse and violence. Argrow’s House is a safe space where survivors come for healing and support. Part of their efforts to empower the women they support includes the production of incredible soaps and bath products which give the women a place to create and also earn a wage.

 

photo courtesy of Argrow's House 

 

Since my trip, Dr. Ford and Argrow’s House have become active partners in our efforts for victims’ rights in Iowa. It has truly been an honor to work with this organization and their incredible survivors who continue to find new ways to empower themselves and others. As they now lend their voices to our cause, their voices will create positive outcomes for others.

 

I hope you'll visit their page and support their mission. 

 

Thanks for reading, 

Eric 

Marsy's Law for Iowa State Director

Come Have Coffee

Over the next few weeks, we’re hitting the road again and would love to have you join us at our #RoadtoRights Community Coffees.

 

This will be a casual event where we can meet with members of your community who want to learn more about the movement to give Iowa crime victims equal rights in our state constitution.

Whether you’re our biggest supporter, have a few follow-up questions or just want to get more information, we’d love to have you join us at one or more of the following events:

 

City

Date

Time

Location

Address

Pella

9/4/19

8 a.m.

The Sanctuary Coffee House

719 Franklin St.

Bloomfield

9/4/19

8:30 a.m.

Mutchler Center

900 N. East St.

Knoxville

9/4/19

10 a.m.

The Coffee Connection

213 E. Main St. #101

Chariton

9/4/19

12:30 p.m.

Chariton Public Library

803 Braden Ave.

Mt. Pleasant

9/5/19

8:30 a.m.

Central Park Coffee Co.

120 S. Main St.

Fairfield

9/5/19

11 a.m.

Revelations Café

112 N. Main St.

Council Bluffs

9/12/19

9:15 a.m.

Council Bluffs Public Library

400 Willow Ave.

Onawa

9/13/19

8:30 a.m.

Onawa Community Center

320 10th St.

Denison

9/13/19

11 a.m.

Norelius Community Library

1403 1st Ave. S

Ida Grove

9/13/19

2 p.m.

Community Rec Center

311 Barnes St.

 

We plan to expand these conversations into other communities as well, so please let us know if you think we should come to your town.