Georgia Senate Must Give Strength To Victims’ Rights
After the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Marsy’s Law for Georgia by a wide, bipartisan margin, the state Senate will consider the constitutional amendment today – the final day of the legislative session for a bill to pass out of the Senate if the House is going to consider this year.
Much work remains. Advocates need to call their senators and ask them to support amendments offered by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John F. Kennedy (R-Macon), which will greatly strengthen victims’ rights over the version that passed out of committee.
Supporters of Marsy’s Law have squared off with opponents who have tried to weaken the protections for crime victims in the bill. The fight comes down to this: Should victims have recourse if the justice system fails to deliver on their rights? In other words, should these rights be enforceable and have teeth? Opponents don’t think so. But advocates know that rights that aren’t enforceable “aren’t worth the paper they are written on,” as one advocate testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kennedy is fighting to make sure that victims’ rights have real meaning and victims have standing in the justice system that is equal to that of criminals. Putting these protections in the constitution is about just that: leveling the playing field between the perpetrator and the victim. Any bill that falls shorts of that standard fails to deliver what victims in Georgia need and deserve.
Today the Georgia Senate can take our state one step closer to doing what 35 states have already done: put victims’ rights that mean something into the state constitution.