Issue 1 could change the justice system for victims

Victim's advocates are fully behind passing Marsy's Law in Ohio to give more access to information to victims and families. (YouTube screen shot)

Ohio voters will be asked to consider a constitutional amendment called "Marsy's Law" meant to protect crime victims. It's part of a nationwide effort to spell out specific rights for victims throughout the judicial process.

The measure has gained support of many victims who feel like they didn't have a voice while trying to find justice.

"You recognize it's not as nice and neat and doesn't get wrapped up in an hour like a TV show but at least I assume that victims were really well cared for," said Stacey Stevens whose father was murdered in Hocking County last year. "As it turned out I feel like the folks that murdered my dad have far more rights than I do."

Stevens said she was threatened with subpoenas from prosecutors and struggled to find out when there were court proceedings. Marsy's Law would give crime victims the right to be notified of any court proceedings as well as give more input with prosecutors. Victims would be able to have their say with plea bargains.

"The system has been failing for over 24 years," said Catherine Harper Lee with the Ohio Crime Victims Justice Center. "It's just necessary that we provide victims a mechanism to protect and enforce their rights otherwise they're not worth the paper they're written on."

Not everyone in the judicial system supports Marsy's Law though.

"I'm not against victim's rights," said Tim Young, the Ohio Public Defender. "I would like people to know Ohio has great victim's rights statutes. Most of what's in Marsy's Law already exists as law in Ohio. We already have it. If it's failing today than what we need is an ability to enforce it. This is not a well-thought provision to protect the real problems with victim's rights in Ohio."

Young said it's the job of prosecutors to help victims.

Stevens said she was supporting Marsy's Law in the hopes she will have more of a say getting justice for her dad.

"People don't have any idea that any of this happens," Stevens said.

The last time victims's rights were amended in the Ohio Constitution was 24 years ago. Different variations of Marsy's Law have passed in five states. Its supporters said it has worked well in those places but critics point out there's an ongoing lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the law in Montana.

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