Kentucky's Voters Have Spoken, Marsy's Law Passes Overwhelmingly
KENTUCKY BECOMES 14th STATE TO PASS MARSY’S LAW
More than 42% of Americans live in states that have equal constitutional rights enshrined in their state constitutions
Frankfort, KY – Voters in Kentucky have overwhelmingly voted to amend their state constitution to include Marsy’s Law, a victims’ rights initiative that guarantees crime victims with an equal level of constitutional protections already afforded to the accused and convicted. Kentucky now joins Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, California, Illinois, North Dakota, and South Dakota in passing Marsy’s Law, ensuring that more than 42% of Americans now live in states that have rights they can assert in the criminal justice system should they ever become crime victims.
Thirteen states have passed the “gold standard” of victims’ rights – but there are still many states where constitutional rights for victims are limited, and 14 states where victims still have no constitutional rights at all. The U.S. Constitution is also silent on rights for victims of crime.
Chairman and Founder of Marsy’s Law for All, Dr. Henry Nicholas, applauded the news by saying, “Victims of crime in Kentucky will now have meaningful, enforceable constitutional rights – which they deserve! My family has a significant history in Kentucky. Not only do I have wonderful memories spending time with our grandmother in Lexington, but my family is proud to be direct descendants of Col. George Nicholas, Kentucky’s First Statesman, first Kentucky Attorney General, and the primary author of the Kentucky constitution. Tonight’s win makes me particularly proud of my deep family connection to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
“My family was forever changed by the murder of my sister, Marsy, back in 1983,” said Dr. Henry Nicholas. “Going through the criminal justice process as a victim was a difficult experience, during which we quickly realized the need for stronger rights for victims of crime.”
“It is gratifying to know that innocent victims of crime in Kentucky will not have to suffer the injustices that my family endured upon my sister’s murder. This would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of our dedicated volunteers, crime victims, and their family members, victims’ advocates, law enforcement, the members of the General Assembly, and of course the voters,” he continued. “I especially want to thank State Senator Whitney Westerfield, our bill sponsor, and without whom this victory would not have been possible. Passing Marsy’s Law in Kentucky means that over 42%of Americans will be living in a state with Marsy’s Law in their constitution. These are rights that all Americans deserve.”
Marsy’s Law for Kentucky: A Bipartisan Effort
“Today is truly a landmark day for Kentucky crime victims,” said Emily Bonistall Postel, Marsy’s Law for Kentucky Director of Outreach. “Amid a year of much uncertainty, voters sent a clear and powerful message: Kentuckians whose lives are impacted by crime deserve our support and to have their rights protected in our constitution. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our vast, statewide army of Marsy’s Law advocates, survivors in all 120 counties will no longer have to feel alone, insignificant, or shut out of the very system they are counting on to carry out justice.”
Marsy’s Law for Kentucky has been championed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of state legislators, victim advocates, and community organizations across the Commonwealth. Senate Bill 15, sponsored by Senator Whitney Westerfield, was approved by a wide margin in the 2020 General Assembly (passing 31 - 6 in the Senate, and 74 - 15 in the House) — placing the amendment on the ballot before Kentucky voters.
Marsy’s Law for All Fast Facts
- In 2008, with 54%, Marsy’s Law passed and became law in California.
- In 2014, voters in Illinois passed Marsy's Law by a resounding 78%, one of the largest constitutional votes in Illinois history.
- In 2016, voters in Montana (66%), North Dakota (62%) and South Dakota (60%) overwhelmingly passed Marsy’s Law in their states.
- In 2017, Ohio voters passed Marsy’s Law by an incredible 83%.
- In 2018, Marsy’s Law succeeded in Oklahoma (78%), North Carolina (62%), Nevada (61%), Florida (62%) and Georgia (80%).
- In 2019, Marsy’s Law passed in Pennsylvania overwhelmingly.
- In 2020, Marsy’s Law passed in Wisconsin and Kentucky overwhelmingly.
- Marsy’s Law for All is active in a number of other states across the country that don’t provide equal rights for crime victims.
Marsy’s Law for All: Enforceable Constitutional Rights
Marsy’s Law is about providing victims of crime with meaningful, enforceable rights. While the specific rights can vary from state to state, every state that passes Marsy’s Law has these core rights:
- the right to timely notice of proceedings;
- the right to be present;
- the right to be heard; and
- the right to standing before the judge, or an appellate court, if a victim feels their rights have been violated.
For more information on Marsy’s Law for All, please visit: www.marsyslaw.us.