When she was 20 years old, Ishaunna Gully was shot in the back by her ex-boyfriend, leaving her paralyzed and terrified. Throughout the sentencing, Ishaunna received no explanation of her rights or the proceedings. She felt alone in the system and just wanted the whole process to end. Throughout the traumatic physical and mental recovery and legal battles, she became more and more determined that Mississippi can do better. She now runs “Take a Stand, No More,” a victims’ organization assisting victims of domestic violence. Now, she’s on a mission to convince Mississippi lawmakers and voters that in order to do better, Mississippi needs Marsy’s Law.
How do you hope Marsy's Law will help victims of crimes in MS?
I hope that there would be stricter laws to keep the victim protected from the assailant. Marsy's Law would ensure that victims have a prior notification for all court hearings and any parole activity. It also gives the victim the right to talk to the judge before conviction or pleas. One area that would really help is restitution. Many victims need financial assistance during this time.
Describe what it was like for you as a crime victim in Mississippi.
When my domestic violence happened and I was recovering, I did not know and was not told much about the case. I did not know about victim compensation and restitution for a while. When I found out, I still did not receive any. I didn't know anything about the sentencing process. If I had known more, I would have asked for more time. Just by coincidence, I found out that if I didn't hurry up and go through certain procedures my time to see the criminal justice system to enforce the law would have run out.
Any words of encouragement for other crime victims?
Even though domestic violence is a life-changing event, you can still overcome. Faith in God will help overcome things that seem impossible. There are many resources available to help in virtually every area that a person might encounter.