State Issue 1
Criminal defendants have certain rights under the Ohio Constitution, some dating to 1851. Victims do, too, but not so many, and none for as long.
Those who commit crimes have a right to a speedy trial, bail, counsel, and to confront witnesses face to face. They are also protected from having to take the witness stand themselves, from cruel and unusual punishment, and from being prosecuted for the same crime twice.
The rights of victims, on the other hand, were contained in a single amendment to the state Constitution in 1994.
It reads: “Victims of criminal offenses shall be accorded fairness, dignity, and respect in the criminal justice process, and, as the general assembly shall define and provide by law, shall be accorded rights to reasonable and appropriate notice, information, access, and protection and to a meaningful role in the criminal justice process.”
Victims’ rights, however, would be strengthened if Ohio voters approve Issue 1, also known as Marsy’s Law, on Nov. 7. We believe passage will provide important protections for victims.
Under the amendment, crime victims would have the right to be notified of all proceedings and are guaranteed the right to be heard at every step of the process. They would have a right to provide input on plea deals for offenders, and the right of refusal when it comes to being interviewed by the defense for a deposition or other pretrial matters.
Victims would also have a right to restitution, and could go before a judge to ask that their rights be protected if they are denied.
Marsy’s Law was championed by Henry Nicholas in memory of his sister, Marsy, a University of California Santa Barbara student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family, who had just visited Marsy’s grave, had no idea the accused had been released on bail.
The law was first passed in California in 2008, and similar ballot issues have been approved in Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Next year Marcy’s Law will be on ballots in Nevada and Oklahoma.
Our Constitution should only be amended in certain circumstances. Victims’ rights is one of those issues.
Those opposing the bill argue that there will be significant costs to implement the new protections to victims. Certainly, prosecutors’ staffs will have to pick up additional duties, but many already have full-time crime victim advocates.
Criminal justice already carries a high price tag, but neither the accused nor victims should ever be shortchanged in the system. It’s time for Ohio to join others in recognizing that victims deserve to have full protections under the law. Vote yes on Issue 1.
Ohio FOP Endorses State Issue 1
COLUMBUS – The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed State Issue 1, the equal rights for crime victims constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law.
Ohio’s largest law-enforcement union joins the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, 13 county prosecutors, 22 individual county sheriffs and Attorney General Mike DeWine in supporting State Issue 1.
“Our officers work everyday to keep the streets safe and help crime victims every chance we get,” said Ohio FOP President Jay McDonald. “Crime victims should have equal rights to those of the criminals who prey on them, and it’s time Ohioans made that clear by voting to put it in the state constitution.”
Trevor Vessels, the state director for Marsy’s Law for Ohio, said he welcomes the support of the more than 9,000 Ohio FOP members who serve and protect Ohio’s communities. “This endorsement of State Issue 1 by the FOP is truly special,” said Vessels. “These courageous men and women do everything they can to protect the lives of crime victims each day on our streets. Their recognition that crime victims deserve equal rights is a powerful statement.”
If voters approve the proposal bringing equal rights to crime victims this fall, State Issue 1 would grant a series of constitutional protections to crime victims and their immediate families for the first time in Ohio’s history.
Under the amendment, crime victims would have the right to notification of all proceedings as well as be guaranteed the right to be heard at every step of the process. Victims would also have the right to have input on all plea deals for offenders as well as the right to restitution resulting from the financial impact of the crime.
The effort to place State Issue 1 in the state constitution comes after similar ballot issues were approved in California, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The Marsy’s Law movement began in 1983, when a young woman named Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, had no idea the accused murderer had been released on bail.