Broad Support for Marsy’s Law at First Public Hearing in New Hampshire
BROAD SUPPORT FOR MARSY’S LAW AT FIRST PUBLIC HEARING IN NH
Victims Lead Overwhelmingly Supportive Testimony; Governor Sununu, Lawmakers, Criminal Justice Experts Call for Passage of CACR 22
Scott Spradling: (603) 724-8092 / Amanda Grady Sexton (603) 548-9377
CONCORD – Victims and advocates joined several lawmakers and Governor Chris Sununu to call for passage of CACR 22, known as Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire, a constitutional amendment which would create a clear and specific set of rights for victims of crime. Lawmakers repeatedly heard stories from survivors who explained why this law is needed.
John Cantin of Manchester called for passage of Marsy’s Law, saying it could have made a significant difference for his daughter, Missy, a victim of domestic violence. “Her estranged husband strangled her, was arrested, but released on just $40 bail because he was charged with a misdemeanor level crime,” recalls Cantin. “I went with Missy to help her move out, and he was waiting for us. He shot and killed Missy, and nearly killed me. After Missy’s death, I have honored her memory by helping to improve the system of justice that failed her. Together we could work to change 100 more statutes, but the fact remains: until we provide victims with constitutional rights that are both meaningful and enforceable, we will never have a system that is just.”
Jessica Paradis, a survivor of child sexual abuse, urged lawmakers to consider her perspective. “As a survivor, I know what it is to feel invisible and to feel like you don’t matter. None of us ever choose to be a victim, and you never expect that it will happen to you. But life is unfair, and all too often people find themselves affected by crime, and it changes their whole lives.”
Tiffany Roberts, a survivor of abuse, wrote an open letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was revictimized by the criminal justice system because she had no voice in the process. “When my rights were violated or not taken into account, the best I could get was an “I’m sorry.”, I understand that this was the case because I only had statutory rights, without any enforcement mechanism or teeth behind them. My experience, perspective, or safety was not taken into account when the prosecutor offered my offender a plea deal – a plea deal which erased his violent acts as if they never happened. A plea deal that nearly removed all accountability.”
Several dozen victims, advocates, prosecutors and defense attorneys joined lawmakers urging passage of CACR 22. The hearing was dominated by voices of support, and some victims questioned the opposition from the ACLU-NH, saying the organization too often protects criminal defendants and ignores the needs of victims. Sexual abuse victim Dawn Phillips described the efforts of the ACLU-NH to have her attacker’s name removed from the sex offender registry, all without ever notifying her that this process was happening. She questioned the group’s priorities. “One only needs to look at their work here in New Hampshire to remove hundreds of child sexual predators from the public registry in 2015 without notifying their victims.”
Governor Chris Sununu led off the hearing, urging bipartisan support for the measure, saying, “Decisions are made almost daily that reflect an imbalance of rights between victims and the accused. It results in a consistent callousness of treatment of victims. We can do better. Marsy’s law will ensure that victims are treated with fairness and respect when engaging with our criminal justice system.”
About Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire:
Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire is a grassroots effort to bring constitutional rights to victims of crime. Under Marsy’s Law, or CACR 22, crime victims would have the right to notification of all proceedings and would be guaranteed the right to be heard in the criminal justice system. Victims would also have the right to have input on all plea deals for offenders as well as the right to restitution resulting from the financial impact of the crime. New Hampshire is 1 of only 15 states that does not have constitutional rights for victims.
The Marsy’s Law movement began in 1983 by Henry Nicholas, whose sister Marsy was killed by her ex-boyfriend. One week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and Henry walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family had no idea that he had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Henry Nicholas has made it his mission in life to help provide victims and their families across the country with constitutional protections and equal rights.
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