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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. 

 

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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

Indianola

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2019/04/05/iowa-needs-marsys-law-protect-rights-crime-victims-like-me-restitution-notification-constitution/3376449002/?fbclid=IwAR0NZZjK6QO5ElfUFqAH5MKKq5ufGCZgNmL16XhQHawjmKgFuoxVUstsWLE 

 

Do you want to share your story? Send us an email at Iowa@marsyslaw.us 

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Henry County Board of Supervisors Passes Marsy’s Law for Iowa Resolution

 

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.

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Guthrie County Board of Supervisors Passes Marsy’s Law for Iowa Resolution

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.

We're Getting Ready!

 

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

 

-Write on!

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.

 

-Check in!

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.

Calling All Interns

 

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, 

Brandon 

Drake University Class of 2020

Iowans Support Marsy's Law

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. 

 

Join Us


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.

 

For more information or to RSVP, please click here 

 

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,

Eric Baker

Marsy’s Law for Iowa State Director 

 

A Busy Summer

We have spent the past few months meeting with Iowans, hearing heart wrenching stories from crime victims, gaining new supporters and volunteers and visiting small towns and cities across the state.

We wrapped up a busy summer of county fairs at the biggest one of all — the Iowa State Fair — where we had thousands of Iowans stop by our booth to play games, learn more about Marsy’s Law, meet our staff and lend their voice to this important effort.

(It was a beautiful day at the Iowa State Fair to be in a booth under the sky gliders)

 

Nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair and for the Marsy’s Law for Iowa team, being a part of the fun was surely one of the highlights of the summer.

 

More than 1,300 Iowans signed the Marsy’s Law for Iowa petition in one day at the Fair. In the conversations our team had that day and throughout the summer, Iowans were shocked that our state doesn’t already have Marsy’s Law. We were frequently asked why anyone could possibly oppose enforceable rights for victims in our constitution.

 

That is one question we have a tough time answering.

 

 

 

End of Session Statement

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Marsy’s Law for Iowa Statement on Session Adjournment

 

DES MOINES, Iowa (May 5, 2018) —Marsy’s Law for Iowa state director, Eric Baker, issued the following statement:

 

“While we appreciate the discussion and engagement from legislators on Marsy’s Law for Iowa, we’re disappointed this measure was not taken up on the floor for a vote this session. Crime victims in Iowa deserve equal constitutional rights and our grassroots supporters, survivor advocates and Marsy’s Law coalition will not wavier in our commitment to them.

 

“We stand with the 85 percent of Iowans who support Marsy’s Law and will spend the interim meeting with them, building our coalition and continuing to be a voice for victims in Iowa. We look forward to working with legislators to pass this bill next year.”

 

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Gaps in the System

The following post was written by a Marsy's Law for Iowa supporter. Due to her circumstances and situation, she chooses to remain anonymous, but still wanted to share her story to help illustrate the dangerous gaps in Iowa's system. Iowa victims have powerful testimonies and we are humbled by their bravery and allowing us to be a small part in sharing their stories.