Marsy’s Law makes an impact by giving crime victims a voice
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Four months ago, Wisconsin voters passed Marsy’s Law, which gives victims of crimes equal rights as defendants. 1.1 million Wisconsinites cast votes in April in favor of Marsy’s Law according to Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin. Since taking effect in May, one local organization says it’s already seeing the impact.
Bronson Stein, legal advocate at Bolton Refuge House told WEAU,
“Wisconsin has always been a leader in victims’ rights and it’s something as a victim’s advocate I have a lot of pride for the fact that this state saw the impact that crime and offenders had on victims”.
The BRH serves individuals affected by domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault and more. Stein says nationally, the rights of the accused are given more attention than the rights of the victim, and while he says those are sacred and should continue to be enhanced, he believes Marsy's Law is giving victims of crime more of a voice.
“The law really comes from a place of victim focus, and victim advocacy and I guess that’s what makes it so strong is it was created solely with victims in mind”.
He says in the past, victim rights were seen as a 'privilege' in courts, but now those rights and services are starting to become fundamental.
Marsy's Law, which has been in effect in Wisconsin since May 4th added 17 new rights for crime victims including the right to;
· be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity
· timely notice of release or escape of the accused
· full restitution from the accused and notification of all proceedings of a criminal case upon request
Stein says even before the law was passed in the state, the Eau Claire area has worked hard to establish a good rapport with the courts to let victims’ voices be heard. He says one of the rights in Marsy’s Law is making a meaningful impact.
“I think the privacy aspect is something that were starting to see, in this region, be utilized to protect victims ... it really gives them back control in a system that’s kind of inherently designed to put their most intimate, trauma filled moments out there on display.”
Due to COVID-19, Stein says he’s been busier than ever with many calls coming in to the Bolton Refuge House. He says he wrote a significant number of restraining orders early on.
“Coronavirus, it’s been immensely challenging. You can never tell exactly the extent of the damage because of the people that didn’t come in... We’ll never know about them right”.
The victims who are able to seek out justice, or assistance, will have more rights brought to the forefront due to Marsy’s Law.
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