On The Frontlines
Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright has been a tremendous supporter of Marsy's Law for Iowa. In honor of this National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Sheriff Arganbright wrote the following opinion piece. Thank you for all you do for the people of Iowa and Guthrie County, Sheriff.
Being the Guthrie County Sheriff is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. I am reminded on a daily basis of the value of all law enforcement officials in our county and how we are the frontlines of many terrible situations.
A significant portion of my job is spent working with victims of crime and their families. Oftentimes, law enforcement is involved much deeper than simply investigating crimes. We work with crime victims and their families every day, many of which have never navigated the criminal justice system before. As we work with these individuals, we forge a connection and help to be their voice when they are not in a position to be heard. And too often, they’re not being heard.
Currently, Iowa has laws on the books to help protect victims of crime. These statutes give victims the right to be notified and present at any court proceeding, allow them the opportunity to be heard at sentencing and parole hearings, the right to reasonable protection from the accused, the right to be notified of any release or escape and the right to restitution.
Just statues are not good enough, victims deserve permanent rights they can count on, regardless of where they live. Victims deserve constitutional rights.
When I arrest someone, I must read them their Miranda Rights – the accused is afforded very permanent and clear rights in our state’s constitution – as they should be. But victims also deserve rights that carry the same weight. A victim should never feel like their rights are less than someone convicted of a crime against them.
Marsy’s Law would provide these constitutional rights to crime victims in Iowa. It would essentially take our good victims’ rights law and make it permanent and enforceable in our state’s constitution.
No one knows if or when they will become a victim of a crime. If something terrible ever happened to you or someone you love, wouldn’t you want your rights enshrined in the constitution? Wouldn’t you want to be sure you have the right to be heard – the right to be protected – the right to be notified – no matter what.
Sheriff Marty Arganbright
Guthrie County Sheriff