Re-victimization Is An Issue In Kentucky

I’m struck by the number of Kentuckians who have a story of victimization to share. Looking at the numbers, I should know that crime victims are all around me – friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. A murder occurs once every twenty-four hours in Kentucky. Forcible sex offenses occur every two hours in Kentucky. In fact, one of every nine Kentucky women will be a victim of forcible rape at some point in her lifetime. And these are just a few of the most heinous violent crimes – there is a multitude of other crimes that create victims in Kentucky. 

During the last several days, I’ve been contacted by several of these individuals. Individuals who have been forced by their victimization into a complex, confusing criminal justice system by no choice of their own. Individuals whom Marsy’s Law would help if it were currently in place. One of these stories stands out.

Carrie* is a young woman whose ex-boyfriend kidnapped and brutally assaulted her, stole her car and has continued to stalk and threaten her. Due to his stalking and fear for her safety, Carrie has had to move out of her home and recently had to quit her job when her offender showed up in the parking lot of her workplace, despite a court order in place designed to prevent this. She is also still recovering from the severe physical injuries her offender inflicted on her during the attack, including head, jaw and shoulder injuries. Originally charged with more severe crimes, the charges against her offender were amended down and a plea was negotiated for probation without Carrie’s involvement or knowledge. More alarmingly, however, is that her situation meets every single indicator of a lethality risk indicator commonly used in dating/domestic violence cases. Yet, the court has not once had the opportunity to hear from Carrie, who is in the best position to advise the court regarding the continued threats to her safety. She reports feeling ignored and re-victimized by the very system that is supposed to protect our Kentucky citizens.

Sadly, this situation is just one of many examples that demonstrate the severe imbalance in our system. Crime victims are not only victimized by the actual crime but also often inadvertently re-victimized by the system by not being provided a sufficient opportunity to feel heard or the means to enforce any rights afforded to them. Kentucky is one of only 18 states that don’t offer constitutional protection for our crime victims. We can do better. 

*Name changed to protect her privacy