Not a New Concept
I am a retired law enforcement officer, at both the city and county levels. I spent nearly 40 years in my career, protecting our communities and working with survivors of sex abuse and sexual assault. Countless times I have sat across the table from victims of crime, interviewing them and trying to build a trusting relationship with them as they are reeling from the trauma of what has happened. Absolutely no one asks to be the victim of a crime. Many people do not understand what it’s like when they are thrust into this new reality.
It is through my work in this field that I have come to realize just how much victims are falling through the cracks. As these victims are trying to move on and pick themselves up from a situation they did not ask to be in, they are revictimized by the process all over again. They do not get notified of hearings when they need to be present to help them heal. They are silenced when they deserve to be heard.
The Iowa Legislature must address this problem and elevate victims’ rights to the state constitution. Putting victims’ rights right alongside the rights of the defendant will not diminish those protections, it will only give victims equal footing in terms of the judicial process.
There is no doubt in my mind that the crime victims I have worked with over the years absolutely deserve the right to be protected from the convicted, the right to be heard at trial and the right to be notified of parole or escape of the convicted.
I do not take amending our state constitution lightly. I understand and respect the work that went into developing our state constitution. That being said, amending our state constitution is not a new concept. It has been done to correct injustices at the highest level. I truly believe that is how dire the situation has become for crime victims.
I will continue to advocate to our local legislators and any who will listen. We must pass a crime victims’ rights amendment during the 2020 session.
Former Mahaska Co. Sheriff Deputy, Former President of Sheriff and Deputy Association