* From a press release…
State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) has secured passage of “Marsy’s Law,” an amendment that would strengthen the Illinois Constitution’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. The Senate unanimously approved the resolution to put the amendment on the November 2014 ballot.
“Today is the culmination of years of work to ensure that victims’ rights not only are a part of our constitution but will be promptly enforced,” Steans said. “This amendment is about safeguarding victims’ dignity, privacy, right to information and right to be heard throughout the extremely difficult process of bringing the perpetrator to justice.”
“I commend Senator Steans on her tireless advocacy and work to improve the treatment of victims and their families in their quest for justice,” Senate President John Cullerton said. “Because of this amendment, victims across the state may be given more opportunities to secure a sense of justice and closure.”
Marsy’s Law for Illinois is part of a nationwide movement to codify crime victims’ rights in every state. The push began in California, where the brother of murder victim Marsy Nicholas worked for the passage of a state constitutional amendment after his mother was confronted in a grocery store by Marsy’s accused killer, who had been released on bail with no notification to the family. In Illinois, Steans worked with Marsy’s Law for Illinois, House sponsor Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and many law enforcement agencies and anti-violence groups to achieve strong victim protections that do not compromise the criminal justice system’s duty to public safety.
The Illinois Constitution currently contains a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights but does not provide an avenue for victims to assert those rights in court. If approved by voters, the amendment would require courts to hear and rule on a crime victim’s request for enforcement of any of his or her constitutional rights. Marsy’s Law would also add important protections, such as establishing that judges must take into consideration the safety of the victim and the victim’s family members when fixing bail, determining whether to release a defendant and setting conditions of release.
Both the House and Senate have now approved HJRCA 1, which will appear on ballots this November. Marsy’s Law will become part of the Illinois Constitution if three-fifths of those voting on the ballot question (or a majority of those voting in the election) vote in its favor.
The proposal is here. It passed the Senate 59-0.