Crime Victim Advocates Celebrate Fourth Anniversary of Marsy's Law Ratification Vote

Madison, WI  This week marks a significant milestone in the advancement of victims' rights in the Badger State – the fourth anniversary of the enactment of the crime victims’ rights constitutional amendment known as Marsy's Law. The amendment was overwhelmingly approved during the April 7, 2020 spring election with 75 percent of voters, amounting to 1.1 million Wisconsin residents, in support.  

Marsy’s Law provides crime victims with 16 unique rights that vest at the time of victimization. Some of the rights in Marsy’s Law include to be present in the courtroom, to be notified, to be heard, to confer with the prosecutor and to privacy. Marsy’s Law also provides a pathway for victims to assert their rights in court if they feel they are being violated.

“Four years ago, Wisconsin took a decisive step forward to transform our criminal justice system, making it more responsive and just for victims of crime,” said Nela Kalpic, state director for Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin and a domestic abuse survivor. “Marsy’s Law has not only changed the culture in the courtroom for victims, but it has allowed survivors to be more engaged and involved throughout the process.”

“It’s critical to take a victim-centric approach as offenders are held accountable, and Marsy’s Law has reinforced the importance and bolstered the protection of victims’ rights in Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “To continue making progress – and not have it reversed – we must sufficiently fund victim services programs and prevent the major funding cuts those programs currently face.”

“I am so proud of the positive impact Marsy’s Law is having for victims in Wisconsin,” said State Sen. Van Wanggaard, the Senate author of the amendment. “Marsy’s Law is making sure victims’ voices are heard, and involved in the criminal justice system. Marsy’s Law has been a true blessing for victims. Its immediate impact has exceeded my expectations.”

This year’s anniversary has special meaning because it is the first anniversary since the nearly-unanimous Wisconsin Supreme Court decision last May upholding the constitutionality of the question used for the ratification vote.  

The Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin organization has focused its efforts in recent years on educating the public about the rights provided by Marsy’s Law, especially through regular silhouette displays around the state.  The group also partners with the Wisconsin Department of Justice on mapping exercises where stakeholders gather for a full day to literally map the path of a crime victim through the criminal justice process.