Standing for All Survivors
As the 2022 legislative session gets underway at the state capitol, a crime victims' rights amendment is already on the move. This year, the Marsy's Law for Iowa team worked with lawmakers and stakeholders to craft House Study Bill 525 - which would provide rights for crime victims in Iowa's state constitution.
Our bill was sent to the House Judiciary committee where it received a hearing this week. Iowans from across the state, who could not be at the subcommittee hearing, left their public comments at the open forum.
The subcommittee heard from a variety of speakers. One very important voice is a member of our survivor coalition and she shared her story with lawmakers, how the current system in Iowa is broken and why crime victims' rights must be in the constitution.
You may remember Shal, her story is powerful and shows exactly what is wrong in Iowa. She was never notified of any of the hearings having to do with her case, she was never informed on what was happening and she was never provided restitution. Most importantly, when she found out her rights had been violated, she had no way of correcting the problem, absolutely no recourse.
Shal explained to the subcommittee how they should not try to fix the law, but rather victims need their rights elevated to the constitution. Having victims’ rights in the constitution would change the culture of the criminal justice system. It would ensure a victim's rights are weighed and considered, that they are not overlooked or pushed aside. It would ensure the whole system treats victims with dignity and respect.
We agree, Shal. Victims deserve dependable, consistent and fair rights, no matter where they live, and the guaranteed ability to seek justice for their victimization.