Marsy’s Law Applauds Procurement of Long-Awaited Statewide Automated Victim Notification System
ATLANTA – June 14, 2023 – Ever since the Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights (Marsy’s Law) was passed in 2018, Marsy’s Law for Georgia has been championing a statewide automated victim notification (AVN) system to help facilitate the enforcement of these rights. Marsy’s Law for Georgia is encouraged by last week’s announcement, from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), requesting proposals from contractors to provide a statewide AVN. The RFP closes on Thursday, June 15, with the review process estimated to occur over a two-week period.
Because of the fractured and separate judicial districts among the 159 counties in Georgia, human error is often the largest contributor to failures in the system, including:
- delay or lack of victim notifications due to court backlogs or staff shortages
- cross-county line transfers or multi-county transgressions
- incomplete or inaccurate data
- insufficient communication.
These shortfalls greatly affect victims of violent crimes and violate their rights, including:
- accurate and timely notice of scheduled or changes to court proceedings involving the accused
- not be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings
- accurate and timely notice of arrest, release or escape of the accused
- to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused
The creation of a statewide AVN is a momentous step in serving victims following a crime and would alleviate the burden on court-appointed victim advocates. A huge stepping stone in its creation was the passing of the Criminal Record Responsibility Act (CRRA) last year. The new bill empowers a committee to oversee and enforce the accurate and timely entry of all judicial data to be entered into a central database at the Georgia Criminal Information Center (GCIC).
“Georgia is one of the few states in the U.S. not currently employing an AVN, so it’s an incredible step forward for victims’ rights in this State. Thanks to the CJCC and GBI for initiating the process to finally create one,” said Mel Hewitt, Isenberg & Hewitt Partner and Marsy’s Law for Georgia Advisory Board Member. “I have clients call me all the time about how they weren’t notified of their accused’s court dates or how they were unaware that their attackers were released. Imagine the pain and violation of being victimized by crime the first time, then having the courts fail them during the pursuit of justice — victimizing them again. The AVN will certainly help rectify that.”
Derek Marchman, President of Marchman Consulting and Marsy’s Law Advisory Board Member, will be one of the informal RFP reviewers as will a representative from the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association and representatives from state agencies including the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, State Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Judicial Council of Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts. Marsy’s Law for Georgia shares the CJCC’s eagerness in moving forward with procuring an AVN vendor and making the Georgia judicial system a safer place for victims.
About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.
For more information on Marsy’s Law for All, please visit www.marsyslaw.us.