New Hampshire’s Top Elected Leaders Announce Bipartisan Support for Constitutional Amendment to Create Equal Rights for Victims of Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2018

 

Contacts:

Scott Spradling (603) 724-8092;  [email protected]

Amanda Grady Sexton (603) 548-9377;  [email protected]

 

New Hampshire’s Top Elected Leaders Announce Bipartisan Support for Constitutional Amendment to Create Equal Rights for Victims of Crime

Governor, Senate and House Leaders Join Victims, Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, and Advocates to Support Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire

Concord, NH – A nationwide effort brought to the Granite State by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has quickly surged to a major policy priority for Governor Chris Sununu and legislative leaders in both parties, who seek to pass a constitutional amendment recognizing rights for victims of crime. Governor Sununu joined Senate and House leadership and dozens of victims, law enforcement, and advocates to launch efforts to pass CACR 22.

While most states provide crime victims with constitutional-level protections, New Hampshire remains one of only 15 that does not. Once passed by the legislature and adopted by the voters, Marsy’s Law will grant constitutional rights to crime victims on par with those provided to the accused and convicted.

Under the Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire amendment, crime victims would be afforded the following rights:

  • The right to be provided with notice of all proceedings involving the accused
  • The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, and parole
  • The right to reasonable protection from the accused
  • The right to reasonable notice of any release or escape of the convicted
  • The right to restitution resulting from the financial impact of the crime

“New Hampshire’s constitution lacks important rights like notifications for victims, the right to be present in court, and the right to have a voice in the process,” explains Governor Sununu.

“Granite Staters have long supported equal rights, and this constitutional amendment is necessary to ensure that our state’s constitution protects us all.”

“Prosecutors, judges, and members of law enforcement all recognize the need for basic equality in the criminal justice system,” says Attorney General Gordon MacDonald. “By giving Constitutional rights to victims, we will ensure that victims and defendants have equal voices in New Hampshire’s system of justice.”

“Right now, victims have statutory rights, but not constitutional rights,” explains Senator Sharon Carson, primary sponsor of CACR 22. “By elevating the basic rights of the victim to meet the rights of the defendant, we will restore balance and ensure that victims also have a voice in the courtroom.”

“When dealing with issues affecting victims of crime, elected officials must put partisan differences aside and act with one voice,” says Senate Democratic leader Jeff Woodburn.
“This amendment does not impact the rights of the accused, rather it creates a system were victim’s rights and defendant’s rights are balanced.”

“This will be a priority for House leadership on both sides of the aisle, and we urge our colleagues to recognize the importance of equal rights in our criminal justice system,” said NH House Speaker Gene Chandler

“Victims of crime shouldn’t be re-victimized by New Hampshire’s criminal justice system. The clear inequality in that exists in New Hampshire’s Constitution must be addressed this legislative session” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. 

“In recent years, New Hampshire’s lawmakers have passed some of our nation’s most comprehensive victims’ rights laws. However, without state constitutional rights, victims of crime will always be at a distinct disadvantage in New Hampshire’s criminal justice system. The passage of Marsy’s Law is a critical step toward ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system” says Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs for the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and State Director for Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire.

For more information on the Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire initiative, please visit the website and follow Facebook and Twitter. #ML4NH

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About Marsy’s Law:

The Marsy’s Law movement began in 1983, when a young woman named Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, had no idea the accused murderer had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Henry Nicholas has made it his mission in life to give victims and their families across the country constitutional protections and equal rights.