Voters in Florida may soon get to decide whether to give victims of crime a bigger say in the criminal justice system.
A proposed amendment to the state constitution known as Marsy’s Law for Florida would enshrine specific rights for crime victims, such as the right to privacy and the “right to be reasonably protected from the accused.” It would also give victims legal standing to testify during hearings to determine a defendant’s bail, sentencing, plea deals and parole.
“The pain a victim suffers in the aftermath of a crime is hard enough without being revictimized by the criminal justice system,” said Senator Lauren Book of Broward County, herself a victim of sexual abuse as a child and now an advocate for Marsy’s Law for Florida. “Marsy’s Law will give each victim the promise of having their voice heard.”
On February 20, Senator Book and Pasco County, Florida Sheriff Chris Nocco introduced the amendment, which would add victims’ rights language to Florida’s constitution. According to the campaign, it would create “enforceable constitutional protections, the same level that is afforded to those accused and convicted, nothing more and nothing less.” If the Florida Constitution Revision Commission approves the amendment, it will be placed on the 2018 general election ballot, where it requires 60 percent approval by voters to be added to the state constitution.