Marsy’s Law for North Dakota Approved for November 2016 Ballot

June 13, 2016

For more information, contact:
Amanda Godfread
[email protected] 

Marsy’s Law for North Dakota Approved for November 2016 Ballot

BISMARCK, N.D. – The Marsy’s Law for North Dakota sponsoring committee is pleased to announce that ND Secretary of State Al Jaeger has verified enough petition signatures to put our initiated constitutional measure for stronger victims’ rights on the November 2016 ballot. A measure number will be given by the Secretary of State’s Office after July 11.

The language on the ballot will read:

This initiated measure would add a new section to Article I of the North Dakota Constitution to provide a number of rights for victims of crimes in this state in a manner no less vigorous than protections afforded to criminal defendants, including the rights of crime victims to be treated with respect, to be free from harassment, and to be protected from the accused. The measure would provide for the safety of crime victims in bail and release decisions and in protecting information that might be used to harass or locate crime victims. Crime victims would have the right to be present at certain court and related proceedings and to be heard concerning such matters as release, plea or sentencing of the accused, and parole and pardon matters and to be notified of any release or escape of the accused. Crime victims would have the right to provide information about the impact of the offender’s conduct and to receive relevant reports or records including pre-sentence reports. The measure would also require prompt return of victims’ property when no longer needed and to timely restitution.

While North Dakota’s existing statutes are strong, we are one of only 18 states that do not have constitutional protections for crime victims’ rights. Putting crime victims’ rights on equal legal standing to the rights of the accused is critical to ensure that both sets of rights are fully protected and enforced. Elevating victims’ rights to the constitution can only be accomplished through a vote of the people, which is why Marsy’s Law for North Dakota will be on the ballot this fall. 

As a crime victim’s family member, Pam Perleberg of Fargo said, “My brother was murdered at a wedding dance in New Rockford last year. Throughout the court process, we have felt like outsiders, because we were clueless as to what was going on. Calls have not been returned and we’ve been made to feel like we’re burdening people by even asking for information – as if we have no stake in the situation, whatsoever.”

“No one ever plans to become a victim of crime, certainly not an 8- or a 4-year-old. But when someone finds themselves in that position, like us, they quickly realize their limited and sometimes non-existent rights,” said Jessica Armstrong of Minot, whose sister was murdered in 2007. “We as family members – the ones truly affected by the murder – were outside the entire process. There was no handbook to navigate the system – we were on our own. Don’t let anyone fool you, our system has holes, but it can be made better with stronger victims’ rights. I urge everyone to thoughtfully consider Marsy’s Law for North Dakota.”

The North Dakota Sheriffs & Deputies Association endorses this effort to strengthen crime victims’ rights. Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said, “Law enforcement officials are often the first ones to interact with victims of crime and we see how difficult it is for people to be unexpectedly thrust into the judicial system. This effort will help crime victims be made aware of their rights, how to pursue them and it makes those rights fully enforceable. While we are proud North Dakota is still one of the safest states in the nation, when crimes do take place, the rights of victims need to be valued equally to those of accused criminals.”

Several state legislators are also on the Marsy’s Law for North Dakota sponsoring committee, including Representative Gail Mooney. “I believe this is an important opportunity to hear from the people of North Dakota as to how highly they value victims’ rights,” Rep. Mooney said. “As a citizen, this is meaningful to me because I know people who would have benefitted from having stronger rights. As a legislator, I value the vote of the people and the message it sends is heard loud and clear in Bismarck. It helps shape the policy we work to pass and fund each session.”

“We are inching forward with another significant step closer to enshrining basic rights for victims of crime in North Dakota: the right to be heard, to be notified of proceedings, and to be free from harassment,” said Kathleen Wrigley, chair of Marsy’s Law for North Dakota. “Tens of thousands of fellow North Dakotans signed the Marsy’s Law for North Dakota petition, and now all North Dakota voters will have an opportunity to be heard on the ballot, in the November election. It is my high honor to be a voice for victims of crime. As the chairperson for Marsy’s Law for North Dakota, I look forward to the discussions up ahead.”

For more information about Marsy’s Law for North Dakota, visit: