Sen. Westerfield Files Marsy’s Law to Create Equal Rights for Crime Victims

Press Release
February 8, 2016

Media Contact:
Rachel Bledsoe Albritton
[email protected]
Sen. Westerfield Files Marsy’s Law to Create Equal Rights for Crime Victims

Constitutional amendment would ensure Kentucky crime victims same rights as accused

FRANKFORT, Ky. — This afternoon in Frankfort, Senator Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) unveiled new legislation known as “Marsy’s Law” aimed at supporting equal rights for crime victims in the Kentucky constitution.

The Marsy’s Law for Kentucky legislation would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016, which if ratified by the voters, would ensure that victims of crime are afforded the same constitutional rights as the accused and convicted.

Although Kentucky does offer some statutory rights for crime victims, the Commonwealth is one of only 18 states that does not codify these rights in the state constitution. If passed, a Marsy’s Law would amend the constitution to include a “Victim’s Bill of Rights” guaranteeing victims’ constitutional rights, including:

  • The right to receive information about their rights and the services available to them.
  • The right to receive notification of proceedings and developments in the criminal case.
  • The right to receive timely notification of changes to the offender’s custodial status.
  • The right to be present at court proceedings and to provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized.
  • The right to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings, or any process that may result in the offender’s release.
  • The right to full and timely restitution.

“As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen the suffering that crime victims and their families endure firsthand,” said Senator Westerfield. “I am sponsoring Marsy’s Law because it is only fair that we provide the same guaranteed rights to crime victims that we provide to those accused of doing them harm. As lawmakers, it is our mission to not only bring criminals to justice but to bring peace to those who have been harmed.”

“We are thrilled to have the support of Senator Westerfield for this important legislation,” said Kristena Morse, State Director for Marsy’s Law for Kentucky. “Last year, over 9,000 violent crimes were committed against victims in Kentucky, and many of those victims faced further injustice as they navigated a criminal justice system that doesn’t offer them equal constitutional rights. Today we are working to correct that injustice and encourage other lawmakers to follow Senator Westerfield’s lead.”

Marsy’s Law for Kentucky is part of a national effort – Marsy’s Law for All – that began as a result of the death of Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas. Marsy was a college student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s family was confronted by her murderer after he had been released on bail.

Since that day, Marsy’s family has made it their mission to ensure that victims and their families are guaranteed constitutional protections and equal rights. Marsy’s Law was first passed in California in 2008, creating the most comprehensive constitutional Victims’ Bill of Rights in the country. Illinois passed a Marsy’s Law in 2014, and efforts to pass similar legislation are underway in seven additional states.

“Passing a Marsy’s Law in Kentucky would mean that the thousands of Kentuckians, including men, women and children, in our state who are victims of crime each year don’t continue to suffer at the hands of a biased criminal justice system,” said Morse. “Ensuring equal rights for crime victims is common sense, and something that advocates across the state have been working toward for quite some time.”

The Marsy’s Law legislation is expected to soon be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Recent polling has shown Marsy’s Law to be overwhelmingly supported by Kentucky voters, 80% of whom have said they would vote for the amendment if it was on the 2016 ballot.


To learn more about Marsy’s Law for Kentucky, visit

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