Public Hearings to Follow CRC Committee Victory
In a victory for victims’ rights advocates, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Declaration of Rights committee passed Marys’s Law for Florida on Friday, January 19. Proposal 96, or Marsy’s Law for Florida sponsored by Commissioner Tim Cerio of Tallahassee, is a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a host of rights for victims or their families when a tragic loss of life occurs. These rights, which are equal to and no greater than the rights already afforded the accused and convicted, include:
- the right to be notified of major developments in the criminal case
- the right to be heard at court proceedings, plea bargains, and parole hearings
- the right to be informed of any changes to the offender’s custodial status
- the right to restitution
- the right to be free from harassment, intimidation or abuse from people accused of crimes or their associates
At the January 19 meeting, the Declaration of Rights Committee heard the story of State Senator Lauren Book, who is a child sexual abuse survivor. Others presenting public testimony on behalf of victims’ rights includes Mike Liles whose wife was murdered, Pat Tuthill whose daughter was murdered, Bill Herrle of the National Federation of Independent Business, and former Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters. Their stories were heartbreaking, their words powerful, and their message clear: What we have in Florida right now is not good enough. We need clear, enforceable rights in our state constitution.
Marsy’s Law for Florida has garnered bipartisan support from other CRC members who have elected to co-sponsor the bill, including Commissioners Patricia Levesque, Darlene Jordan, Fred Karlinsky, State Representative Jeanette Nunez, Brecht Heuchan, Belinda Keiser and State Senator Darryl Rouson.
While this was a critical step forward, the effort to get Marsy’s Law for Florida on the general election ballot in November continues. The full CRC will still need to discuss and vote on Marsy’s Law for Florida/Proposal 96 where it must win support from at least 22 members. Constitutional amendments on the ballot must be approved by at least 60 percent of the voters to be enacted.
Starting next week, the CRC will begin its statewide roadshow of public hearings in Ft. Lauderdale. Marsy’s Law for Florida will be in attendance and sharing the reasons why it is so important for victims and their families to have equal rights and protections. Join us in Ft. Lauderdale next week or consider attending another of the public hearings throughout the state to lend your voice in support of Marsy’s Law for Florida.