Notifying Victims Regarding Custody

After a victim is assaulted, one of the first concerns is removing the attacker by law enforcement and putting the accused behind bars – keeping the victim and other potential victims safe. That act gives a victim his or her first opportunity to heal, feel safe and, ideally, begin the process of overcoming a crime that they did not choose.

Imagine a victim – or his or her family if, sadly, a murder occurred – upon learning that the accused is not being held in the informed location. If the accused – or eventually convicted – switches custody from one prison to another in a different part of the state. If they have a change in the status of their sentence from a high to medium security prison, with less oversight. Or, worst case scenario, if they are released and the victim or their family is not officially informed.

These scenarios are currently happening to victims in North Carolina, and it’s not required by law that victims be informed regarding custody. Not only does this impact their ability to heal emotionally, it generates a very real public safety concern with victims not knowing if they are going to open the
door and be face-to-face with their attacker.

Though many counties and local law enforcement agencies do their best to keep victims updated on the status changes and safety concerns of the accused and convicted, it simply isn’t equally applied from county to county and across the state. There is a gap in statewide coverage that puts victims and their families at an unfortunate disadvantage.

Marsy’s Law NC will mean that victims are guaranteed notification of custody status, even when it changes, regardless of what community or county the crime occurs. Victims deserve that guarantee as part of their constitutional right. Their dignity, peace of mind and public safety should be a priority for North Carolina.