Marsy’s Law for Illinois Urges Officials To Prioritize Victims’ Rights in Midst of COVID-19 Outbreak
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Bishop Jenkins
Springfield, IL, April 2, 2020 - The Cook County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday that seven more detainees at the Cook County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 141. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Illinois' Cook County released nearly 400 'highly vulnerable' detainees to date.
While Marsy's Law for Illinois appreciates the need to take extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, government and criminal justice officials must also remember that victims have rights enshrined in the Illinois Constitution that must be considered. Those protections include the right for victims and family members of victims to provide input during deliberations on the early release or parole of offenders, as well as timely notification when an offender is released from prison.
Marsy's Law for Illinois released the following statement:
"Marsy's Law for Illinois urges government officials to prioritize their constitutional duty to allow victims to be notified and heard before the release of inmates or pretrial offenders while taking any measures to address the potential spread of COVID-19. Notification of inmates' release- whether early or on schedule- is now a constitutional right provided to crime victims. We appreciate that government and law enforcement officials must make difficult decisions to help alleviate the spread of COVID-19, and we support the extraordinary efforts to contain this global pandemic. But we want to make sure the interests of victims are considered and their constitutional rights are upheld throughout every step of the criminal justice process, even in this time of crisis."
Passed by Illinois voters in November 2014, Marsy's Law for Illinois requires that crime victims are provided with timely notice of any release, escape or death of the excused and if the accused is in custody or on supervision at the time of death.
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 walked into a grocery store, where she was 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 life's mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. Since California's passage of the Victim's Bill of Rights Act of 2008, Marsy's Law legislation has been overwhelmingly approved by voters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.