North Carolina’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) endorsed victims’ rights legislation Marsy’s Law this week, joining another statewide victims’ advocacy group NC Victims’ Assistance Network (NCVAN) in supporting the bipartisan legislation to strengthen victims’ rights in the state constitution.
“Mothers Against Drunk Driving-North Carolina, strongly supports expanding and protecting the rights of crime victims, including victims of drunk driving, as provided by Marsy’s Law (NC H.B. 551),” said Irene Dwinnell, NC State Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “MADD looks forward to working with Dr. Henry T. Nicholas and his North Carolina team as they endeavor to change how victims of crimes are treated in North Carolina.”
House Bill 551, Marsy’s Law, passed the North Carolina House with overwhelming bipartisan support in April and is now awaiting a vote in the state Senate. It is expected to be considered in the Senate as early as this fall.
Once it is through ⅗ of both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly, it will be sent to voters to decide, possibly in the spring primary of 2018.
The broad, bipartisan support is gaining momentum statewide with resolutions from five local town councils and a growing number of endorsements including: 15 sheriffs, six county commissioners, eight mayors, 41 town council members and two members of the Council of State.
Town of Angier Endorses Marsy’s Law
The Town of Anger is one of the communities to recently vote in favor of a resolution to support Marsy’s Law NC.
“While we have given those that commit crimes of violence many protections and rights, we have not afforded victims the rights that they deserve,” said Angier Mayor Lew Weatherspoon. “I am proud that Angier is joining state leaders in recognizing this important issue and showing support for House Bill 551 which will add victims’ rights to our state constitution.”
A majority of North Carolinians support this issue according to a recent survey among statewide voters: more than eight in ten North Carolinians from across the political spectrum support amending the constitution to give victims stronger rights. Nearly nine out of ten voters believe that crime victims should be guaranteed notification of a criminal’s bail, parole, release or escape and that victims, if they choose, have the constitutional right to speak at the bail or sentencing hearing.
The victims’ rights amendment has North Carolina-specific language that will focus on felonies and violent misdemeanors.
It will guarantee that victims receive certain rights in a number of important ways including:
- informing victims and their families about their rights and the services available to them,
- giving them the right to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in a criminal case,
- protecting their safety by notifying them in a timely manner regard
- informing changes to the offender’s custodial status,
- allowing victims and their families to exercise their right to be present – and heard – at court proceedings,
- providing input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized; and
- establishing the right to restitution from the convicted.
For a list of Marsy’s Law NC current endorsements: http://nc.marsyslaw.us/endorsements
Watch the Marsy’s Law NC launch video: https://youtu.be/7ecYBV2MIWk
About Marsy’s Law NC
Marsy’s Law for North Carolina seeks to amend the state constitution to provide an equal level of constitutional protection to victims of crime that is already afforded to the accused and convicted. Marsy’s Law is supported across the political spectrum to ensure that victims have the same “co-equal” rights as the accused and convicted – nothing more; nothing less.
While there are some victims’ rights protections currently in North Carolina’s constitution, they are not applied the same way from county to county and there is not currently broad, statewide, enforceable language equally outlined across the state. The Marsy’s Law for NC campaign aims to give victims of crime a voice they do not have by law in the criminal justice process, and the safety and peace-of-mind to know their assailant has not been released without their knowledge.
About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.
Since California’s passage of the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, Marsy’s Law legislation has also succeeded in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois.
For more information on the Marsy’s Law initiative, please visit https://marsyslaw.us/.