Release of Murder Suspects Highlights Need for Marsy’s Law for Georgia

For Immediate Release

Dec. 13, 2017 

Release of Murder Suspects Highlights Need for Marsy’s Law for Georgia

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution story documenting the high number of murder suspects out on bond in Fulton and DeKalb counties highlights the need for the General Assembly to pass Marsy’s Law for Georgia, which would give victims and their families the constitutional right to notifications of these hearings and a voice in the judicial process.

The AJC investigative piece “In Fulton and DeKalb, dozens of murder suspects out on bond” (Nov. 30) stated that Fulton has granted bond to 37 suspects and DeKalb has done the same for 85 from the beginning of 2014 until May of this year.

Fulton County DA Paul Howard called it risky “bond madness.” Atlanta police chief Erika Shields said, “It’s really discouraging.”

For victims, however, this is more than an annoyance.

“The families of murder victims live with trauma and fear,” said Marsy’s Law for Georgia state director Ann Casas. “They need constitutional rights that give them standing in the judicial system so that they are aware of these bond hearings and changes in custody status and so that they can tell the judge themselves how a suspect’s release will affect them. Nothing in Marsy’s Law would stop a judge from acting on his or her interpretation of the law and the facts of the case, but it would make sure that victims or their survivors have their voices heard.”

Georgia is one of only 15 states in the nation that do not give constitutional rights to crime victims. It passed by an overwhelming majority in the state Senate in 2017 and will go to the House for its approval this session. A constitutional amendment in Georgia requires a vote of 2/3 of both houses and then approval by voters in the next general election. Since 2014, Marsy’s Law has passed overwhelmingly in Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Ohio.

“Marsy’s Law for Georgia will elevate and enumerate the rights of crime victims. Those accused or convicted of crimes already have constitutional protections, and victims deserve equal rights,” Casas said.