Each new year brings a new world of hope and opportunity. But for victims of crimes and their families, sadly, this is not always the case. Physical injuries, fear, heartache and countless other burdens often follow victims and their families for years after the actual event – stripping their ability to share the same hope and optimism that others enjoy in the new year.
In North Carolina, 2017 is slated to begin a game-changing process to help correct some of the wrongs suffered by victims and their families. Marsy’s Law for All, a victims’ rights initiative, will kick-off a statewide effort to amend the state constitution on behalf of North Carolina’s victims of crime – first through the 2017 legislative process followed by a statewide vote the following year. It is an exciting opportunity for North Carolinians to better understand this important issue and its broad impact; and to help our neighbors and friends who are affected by crime.
The campaign is active around the country seeking to amend state constitutions like North Carolina that don’t currently offer equal protections to victims of crime – protections that are already afforded to the accused and convicted. Since the groundbreaking 2008 legislation in California, this effort has also passed in Illinois, Montana and North and South Dakota.
While North Carolina does have victims’ rights protections in its constitution, it is not always consistently applied from county to county and regionally, and there is a need to establish specific and uniform rights statewide so that victims receive the same rights that those who are accused and convicted of crimes are given. Establishing “co-equal” rights in the state constitution is the goal of the North Carolina effort.
With strong, bipartisan support at the state government level, 2017 will be a critical year to advance North Carolina’s victims’ rights – something to provide hope and optimism to everyone in the year ahead.