The pros and cons of Ohio's Issue 1: Crime victim's rights

Issue one: Marsy's Law

Maybe you've seen the below commercial: 

It advocates in favor of Issue 1, which would bolster the Equal Rights For Crime Victims amendment, also known as Marsy's Law. 

Ohio passed a crime victims law back in 1994 but many believe the law hasn't kept up with changes in the legal system.  Issue 1 seeks to repeal and replace the current law and strengthen victims rights.

There are 133 people staying at the Summit County Battered Women's Shelter.

About half of them are going through the court process and many of them will tell you they feel that their voices are not heard.

That's the goal of Marsy's Law: To give voice to not just them but all victims of crime.

We spoke to one of the women in the shelter. We'll call her 'Sarah,' as she's asked us to protect her identity. She's been in the shelter for two months after a severe beating by her partner. 

She dreaded the court process. "I didn't want to go through the court process because sometimes it takes longer and you have to keep going back and reliving your experience," she told us. 

Ohio's Issue 1 would speed up that process. Crime victims and their families would have the right to notification of all proceedings and to be heard during the entire legal process. Victims could be involved in plea deals and entitled to financial restitution. 

"But if you think about 1994 and how things have changed in the whole victim movement, the laws...the protection, that also needs to change and it hasn't evolved," says Terri Heckman, CEO of the Battered Women's Shelter.

But opponents argue that Issue 1 does not provide additional resources and the government remains immune to liability. They believe that it will result in increased litigation, increased cost to taxpayers, and will delay cases, which will only hurt victims. 

Sarah says she'll vote for Issue 1 because she believes it will help victims like her get some control back into their lives, that had been stripped away. 

Five states have ratified constitutional amendments known as Marsy's Law. It's named for Marsy Nicholas, who was murdered in 1983 in California. A week after her murder, her parents were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store. They were never notified he was out on bail..

Ohio has a notification element to the law, but Issue 1 would boost it.

Click HERE to see more arguments for and against Issue 1 and see the actual wording of the ballot issue.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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