Marsy’s Law For Montana Launches Constitutional Amendment Campaign
Marsy’s Law for Montana today submitted a ballot initiative to the Montana Secretary of State to establish a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in Montana. The submission is the first step in the process to qualifying for access to the 2016 General Election ballot for consideration of the voters.
“Most people are familiar with the Constitutional rights of those accused of a crime, but few people realize that crime victims have no enumerated rights in our Montana constitution,” explained Derek Vanluchene, a member of the Marsy’s Law for Montana steering committee and executive director of Ryan United, a national victims advocacy group headquartered in Helena. ”People accused or convicted of a crime shouldn’t have more rights than the victim. Marsy’s Law is about establishing co-equal rights and better serving those who have been victimized.”
Thirty-two states already have some constitutional rights in place for victims of crime Montana is one of eighteen states that currently does not have any constitutional rights for victims of crime.
“Montana’s prosecutors and law enforcement are already doing yeoman’s work with helping victims and their families,” said Chuck Denowh, the state director of Marsy’s Law for Montana. ”Marsy’s Law isn’t a criticism that they’re not doing enough, it’s simply recognition that crime victims deserve to have their rights protected in our Constitution. Under Marsy’s Law, the rights of victims don’t trump those of the accused, nor will they interfere with the prosecutor’s case.”
Marsy’s Law for Montana has established a bipartisan statewide steering committee that reflects a diversity of stakeholder support for the issue. Initial steering committee members include Kelsen Young, the executive director of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Derek Vanluchen, the executive director of Ryan United; and Toni Plummer Alvernaz, the executive director of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition.