It’s not very often amendments to Ohio’s Constitution gain widespread support.
Such action is tricky. First, it requires a two-thirds vote of both the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate to get on the ballot. Then it must win a majority among the state’s voters.
Altering the constitution is fraught with potential problems. If it becomes clear changes must be made, any fixes then also must go before the voters.
This was one of the arguments against a constitutional amendment that allowed casino gambling in the state of Ohio. The amendment gave precise locations for the casinos, and any changes of location would require a statewide vote. You’ll note Cleveland’s casino remains in its “temporary” home at Tower City eight years after voters approved the measure to allow construction. That’s because the permanent, constitutionally specific home still hasn’t been built.
Voters in Ohio will face a constitutional question on the Nov. 7 ballot, and this time, we’re firmly in support of the issue.
The rights of victims of crime were written into the state’s Constitution as an amendment in 1994.
Here’s the change voters should approve: Issue 1, also is known as Marsy’s Law, would guarantee more specific rights to victims of crime. It says they’re to be informed at all stages of the prosecution and that they be heard in pleas, sentencings and imposing of sentence. It says they must be informed of the release or escape of the suspect. It guarantees restitution. It also says they have the right to refuse to be interviewed by the defense for a deposition or other pretrial matters.
Marsy’s Law is named for Marsy Nicholas, who was slain in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. A few weeks later, the suspect confronted Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry, at a grocery store. They hadn’t been notified of his release from jail. The law was championed by Henry Nicholas in memory of his sister. He fought for rights for victims to be informed at every stage of the case that involves them. The law has won support in five states: California, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. It will appear on the ballot in 2018 in Nevada and Oklahoma.
We join more than 275 lawmakers, elected officials, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and victims’ advocates in Ohio who support Issue 1 and encourage its passage.
We’ve seen countless pleas for support for victims after crimes and take issue with some of the opposition to this important amendment.
John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, says Issue 1 “creates the ability for the victim to intervene in the criminal justice process at any point along the line if they think they aren’t getting their due. It could be a real mess.”
No, a “real mess” is when victims are forgotten and their feelings and cries for justice aren’t considered in the prosecution of a crime. We cannot shortchange those who’ve been wronged by criminal activity, and they deserve a guarantee of a voice in the adjudication of the case against their attacker. Yes, laws must be followed, but it shouldn’t happen at the exclusion of the victims.
Issue 1 would not affect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of defendants.
This change to Ohio’s Constitution is a good one that protects those among who have been victimized.
Say yes to Issue 1 on Nov. 7.
This previously published Editorial was provided by Marsy’s Law for Ohio.