Prior Passage of Marsy’s Law Confirms No Significant Cost Increase

Some people argue that giving constitutional rights to crime victims will cost too much. While this is a convenient argument to make when people oppose something, it is simply not true and other states have already proven them wrong. 

Marsy’s Law has not had a significant fiscal impact on prosecutor offices in states where it has been implemented or in states that have similar constitutional rights. Many of the rights in Marsy’s Law already exist in statute and many prosecutors are already following the rights outlined in Marsy’s Law. The notification requirements have the potential to be most burdensome, however, the new Statewide Automated Victim Information and Information Notification (SAVIN) system will make them automated so no new employees will need to be hired. Moreover, it will make prosecutors and victim assistance more efficient than ever before.  Victims will simply be able to register for SAVIN online to invoke their right to notification.

Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore says his office already notifies all victims of all crimes and that Amendment S will not result in higher costs for his office.

States that have already passed Marsy’s Law or similar constitutional rights for crime victims have already proven there are no significant costs associated with Marsy’s Law. Here is what prosecutors and judges from those states say about costs impact:

Dan Downs, San Luis Obispo County State’s Attorney (CA): Concerns raised during the 2008 Marsy’s Law campaign in California haven’t materialized in San Luis Obispo County. Marsy’s Law hasn’t caused funding difficulties for his office largely because victims’ assistance has been a priority for decades. Said Dow, “I think Marsy’s rights are at the core of what a prosecutor is doing every day. It helps us to serve victims fully and completely in every case.”

Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego County District Attorney (CA): “During the statewide initiative campaign to pass Marsy’s Law, critics warned that Marsy’s Law would fundamentally alter the criminal justice system and overburden court resources to accommodate crime victims enforcing their rights. After more than three years of experience in utilizing Marsy’s Law on behalf of crime victims, none of those concerns have materialized.”

William Montgomery, Maricopa County District Attorney (AZ): Even though his office is the 4th largest prosecuting office in the United States handling more than 35,000 felony cases each year, “providing notice has not been burdensome and having crime victims present in a courtroom has actually assisted in prosecuting a case because they are often essential to the truth-seeking function we serve.”

Keith Fagundes, Kings County District Attorney (CA): Stated the implementation of Marsy’s Law hasn’t been a burden to his office. He said good prosecutors know speaking with a victim regularly helps a case. Additionally, Marsy’s Law did help to make the experience for victims more uniform across the state since not all prosecutors think the way he does about calling victims.

Joshua Marquis, District Attorney Clatsop County, Oregon and Board Member of the National District Attorney Association: “We have had enforceable victims’ rights in Oregon’s constitution since 2008.  Since that time, I have neither experienced nor heard of any resulting problem in the administration of justice in Oregon involving these rights or the enforcement of them. Quite to the contrary, the potential for enforcement is largely ensuring compliance with the rights. Enforcement of rights has insignificantly added to the efficiency of the criminal process.”

The Honorable Gary Paer, Judge of the Orange County Superior Court in California: “The exercise by victims of these rights in my court did not undermine the fair or efficient administration of justice. Marsy’s Law does not deny, either to the state or the defendant, the important rights that each has in our system. Before California adopted its constitutional amendment for enforceable victims’ rights, some feared that giving victims enforceable rights might cause delay, create administrative burdens for trial and appellate courts, cause conflict between prosecutors and victims, or deny defendants their constitutional protections. None of these fears have come to pass.”

Mike Ramos, President of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) and San Bernardino County District Attorney (CA): When elected to the NDAA this year, Ramos, a long-time supporter of victims’ rights and Marsy’s Law, reaffirmed his support of Marsy’s Law – stating that partnering with families and victims of crime through Marsy’s Law in California has been a positive change in the state that should be embraced nationwide. Ramos said, “People thought that if we support this it is going to be terrible – it has not, it has been absolutely the other way around.”