Why Is A Constitutional Amendment Necessary?

On occasion, the Marsy’s Law for Maine team is asked why we need a constitutional amendment if crime victims currently have rights and protections in law. The constitutional rights afforded by Marsy’s Law for Maine are necessary for many reasons.

One reason is that current law is simply inadequate. Unlike the rights of the accused and convicted, crime victims’ rights are neither strong nor enforceable. For instance, current law only requires victims be notified of the release of the perpetrator in a timely manner “whenever practicable.” That is not enough, it is not equal, and this peripheral consideration of victims can make the legal process hurtful and increase victims’ trauma symptoms. 

Additionally, while the bar is set high for changes to the Maine Constitution, lawmakers can change statute with simple legislative majorities. This leaves current law subject to change on a regular basis, as opposed to victims having rights they can count on that are equal to the rights of the accused or convicted.

Finally, most people we speak with are surprised to learn that Maine is one of only a handful of states that does not afford adequate legal protections to victims of crime.

Maine crime victims deserve rights that are strong and enforceable, recognized at the highest levels of the criminal justice system, and equal to those of the accused or convicted, as they are in most other states. That is why we need the equal constitutional rights and protections afforded by Marsy’s Law for Maine.