Sheriffs & Deputies Association Unanimously Endorses Marsy’s Law for ND

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, February 4, 2016

For more information, contact:

Amanda Godfread

701-222-8721

[email protected]

Sheriffs & Deputies Association Unanimously Endorses Marsy’s Law for ND

BISMARCK, N.D. – At its annual meeting in Bismarck the North Dakota Sheriffs & Deputies Association unanimously voted to endorse Marsy’s Law for North Dakota. The proposed ballot measure would elevate victims’ rights to the state constitution to be on equal footing with, while not diminishing, the rights of the accused. It would ensure victims have the right to be heard, to be notified and to be free from harassment throughout the criminal justice process. Marsy’s Law for ND was written based on existing state statutes and reviewed by local law enforcement, attorneys, and victim advocates.

“We are humbled by the overwhelming vote of support Marsy’s Law for North Dakota has earned from our Sheriffs,” said Kathleen Wrigley, chair of Marsy’s Law for North Dakota. “Sheriffs so often see, firsthand, what victims and their families go through as they are thrust into the legal system.  Their perspective and expertise are so valuable to this effort. Currently, because victims’ rights are outlined in state law, not the constitution, they are often overlooked, poorly communicated or even ignored. Victims are the ones hurt by the criminal situation and yet they are often treated as though they have nothing at stake.”

“We as Sheriffs of North Dakota work to protect and to serve, and that means for victims, too. That’s why it was important for us to choose to endorse Marsy’s Law for North Dakota,” said Sheriff Rohrer, president of the ND Sheriffs Association.

Marsy’s Law for North Dakota defines a victim in the same language as existing state statute, and the processes by which Marsy’s Law for North Dakota would be implemented, such as SAVIN, are already in use. It is necessary, however, to elevate victims’ rights to the constitution in order to ensure they are fully protected and respected. Under current law, it has been easy to keep victims out of the process or subject them to harassment.

“We are aware of instances where victims have no longer cooperated with the prosecution because of the harassing nature of defense counsel,” said Wrigley. “We are aware of instances where murder victims’ family members have been outright ignored when seeking information they are entitled to about a case. In those instances, someone in the system is choosing to view our state laws as discretionary. These stories are not reflective of the values we as North Dakotans hold, and they clearly prove the need for Marsy’s Law for North Dakota.

 “I especially want to thank Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney and Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost for each serving as members of the Marsy’s Law for North Dakota sponsoring committee. Their leadership and support right from the start continues to make a tremendous difference,” said Wrigley.

For more information about Marsy’s Law for North Dakota, visit Marsy’s Law for North Dakota on Facebook or @MarsysLawforND on Twitter.

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Paid for by Marsy’s Law for North Dakota, Kathleen Wrigley, Chair.

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