Marsy’s Law Overwhelmingly Popular With Legislators

When voters go to the polls on Nov. 4, they won’t just be picking among candidates who have bombarded them with TV ads and mailers for months now. They also will be voting on two possible amendments to the Illinois constitution — one dealing with victims’ rights and the other with voting rights.

Supporters of each say their measures bolster what’s already on the books. Detractors say they’re unnecessary and, in the case of the victims’ rights proposal, possibly detrimental to the judicial process.

Overwhelmingly popular with legislators, the crime victims proposal landed on the ballot after 100 percent of Illinois state senators and 98 percent of state representatives voted in favor of it.

Supporters say victims deserve stronger protections than those already provided by state law. If the amendment is approved, victims would have, among other rights, an opportunity to be heard with regard to a defendant’s plea agreement, sentencing or release from custody; consideration by the court of the victim and his/her family when it comes to setting or modifying bail or conditions of release; the right to be informed of developments in the case and be present at hearings; and the right to participate where appropriate.

Victims rights’ advocate Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, whose pregnant sister and her husband were murdered in their Wilmette home in 1990, has said the proposed amendment ensures the record includes the “victim’s voice and story.”

State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a former prosecutor, says not all procedures affording victims a stronger voice in criminal proceedings have been followed.

 

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