Wednesday, April 05, 2017 - Updated: 2:06 AM
Two seemingly insignificant hours have the power to change the fate of the many people affected by crime -- sexual assault is just one example. Every 120 minutes in Kentucky, someone falls victim to sexual assault. The passing of every hour threatens the safety of a new victim.
During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, beginning April 2, you will hear a simple theme -- strength, resilience and justice. These three words define the vision of a week dedicated to protecting and strengthening the rights of crime victims.
Strength, resilience and justice also underscore the reason we advocate for Marsy's Law in Kentucky and why we join with this national movement advocating for fair and equitable treatment for crime victims.
Kentucky is one of only 15 states without constitutional-level rights for crime victims. While those who are accused and convicted of crimes have a multitude of constitutional protections, Kentucky crime victims have none. For example, crime victims currently have no way to enforce their statutory right to be made aware of court proceedings involving the accused -- even release hearings, and they certainly have no independent "voice" in the courtroom. Many victims have to constantly check the court docket in hopes they won't miss a proceeding. If they do, and learn about an offender's release or plea deal after the fact -- or even on the news -- there is no solution. Absolutely nothing they can do. For someone whose sense of safety and control has already been violated by the crime, this continued victimization by the very system designed to protect society can be absolutely devastating. Marsy's Law will incorporate a Victims' Bill of Rights into the Kentucky Constitution, giving victims much-deserved legal standing to assert any violation of his or her legal rights and will ensure that they have a protected voice in the process meant to deliver justice.
If adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2018, Kentuckians will have an opportunity to cast their votes for Marsy's Law next November. And if given that opportunity, we know that 80 percent of Kentuckians will vote for it. That's why we encourage every Kentucky legislator to join us and commit to putting Marsy's Law on that ballot.
We believe victims should be strengthened by the response they receive; that our communities should foster resilience for victims and their loved ones, that they may regain all they have lost; and most importantly that our government empower victims by ensuring equal justice, and administering not just punishment, but healing.
Marsy's Law has the power to accomplish all of this without negating the rights of the accused.
As we look ahead to 2018, we thank our incredible supporters and victim advocates that have strengthened our resolve and pushed us closer to accomplishing our mission. We are confident that Marsy's Law will be on next year's ballot, and we know you want it to succeed too.
Our promise is continuing to keep fighting for victims of crime in Kentucky. We hope you will make that same promise and join us in the critical effort.