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Advocates re-energized to bring constitutional rights to Ky crime victims

Marsy’s Law for Kentucky, a constitutional amendment that would guarantee rights for crime victims, was re-introduced today by Sen. Whitney Westerfield with strong support from advocates, victims’ rights organizations, members of law enforcement and many others across Kentucky.
 
Both the Kentucky General Assembly and more than 800,000 (63%) Kentucky voters overwhelmingly supported Marsy’s Law in 2018. Victims across the Commonwealth breathed a sigh of relief knowing they would be afforded the constitutional rights they deserve. Unfortunately, the Kentucky Supreme Court, encouraged by a legal challenge from lawyers who represent criminals, overturned the clear will of the people on a technicality which ignored more than a hundred years of established legal precedent. It is important to note that the Supreme Court made no ruling on the substance of Marsy’s Law. And, the General Assembly willing, Kentucky voters will have another opportunity to support this important amendment for crime victims on the 2020 ballot.
 
“Once again, we have widespread support both in the General Assembly and from all across Kentucky for this commonsense effort to finally give victims of crime the rights they deserve,” said Sen. Westerfield. “I thank all of those who supported us in 2018 and am proud to introduce Marsy’s Law again in 2020. Victims deserve to be given consideration and dignity during the judicial process and Marsy’s Law will ensure that happens.”
 
Kentucky is one of only 15 states without constitutional-level rights for victims of crime. Marsy’s Law, if passed in the General Assembly and adopted, again, by Kentucky voters, would amend the state’s constitution to ensure crime victims have the right to notice of court proceedings, the right to be present in court proceedings, the right for victims to have a voice throughout the legal process, and the right to be made aware of any changes in their offenders’ custodial status.
 
“The list of supporters, advocates, and organizations endorsing Marsy’s Law continues to expand,” shared Emily Bonistall Postel, Ph.D., Director of Outreach for Marsy’s Law for Kentucky. “People I speak with from across the state are demanding that Kentucky victims be given a voice during the judicial process and I am glad Senator Westerfield and other legislators share this sentiment. 2020 is the year for Kentucky crime victims to officially gain constitutional rights.”
 
The substance of the 2020 legislation mirrors what was passed in 2018 and has been drafted to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The proposal filed today includes one new provision to ensure victims have the right to be heard and notified in the consideration of any pardon, commutation of sentence or granting of a reprieve.  
 
Marsy’s Law for KY is supported by: Children’s Advocacy Centers of KY, KY Association of Chiefs of Police, PEACC Center, Family and Children’s Place, KY League of Cities, MADD, Pegasus Institute, NAMI Lexington, 2x Game Changers, KY State Police Professional Association, KY Sheriffs’ Association, Hope After Homicide, Antonio Franklin, Jr. Violence Intervention Project (VIP), S.W.A.G., NAMI Louisville, Survivors’ Corner, and The Mary Byron Project.