Victims’ Rights Are A Matter Of Life And Death
If crime victims in Georgia enjoyed the same constitutional rights as criminals, Bridgette Flowers of Macon might still be alive.
Bridgette was with her daughter, Tearro Moore, in a minivan on that fateful day in 2014 when her husband walked up, stuck a gun in the window and shot her. She plunged over; she had died immediately.
The system failed Bridgette Flowers and her family, with tragic, irreparable damages.
Just days before her death, Bridgette’s husband, Jasento Flowers, had assaulted her in a Walmart parking lot. Surveillance video caught him punching her twice in the face, leaving her unconscious. Ironically, it was Valentine’s Day.
He was booked that night into the Bibb County Jail and the next day released on a special conditions bond – the special condition being that he could not contact his victim. No one told Bridgette; she had no idea she could have him re-arrested when he called and harassed her in defiance of the bond. It usually takes 30 days for those notifications to go out. She died on Day 8.
That day, Jasento should have still been in jail. A repeat offender on parole, the jail should have placed a hold on his bond and sent him before a parole judge. Perhaps if the county had to notify the victim first, Bridgette could have prevented his release.
Having a victims’ bill of rights in the state constitution would give teeth to the laws that require victim notification and a host of other rights. That’s what Marsy’s Law for Georgia would do.
Giving victims and their families constitutional rights puts them on equal footing with the criminals who hurt them, and Bridgette’s story illustrates why that’s needed and proves it’s a matter of life and death.