Guest Columnist

Lawmakers must revisit Marsy's Law in 2019

The State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

The 2018 legislative session has come to a close, and while legislators should be commended for a very successful session, there is one piece of legislation that remains unfinished and will need their attention when they return next year.

Marsy’s Law is a proposal that garnered support through the legislative process, but unfortunately never made it to the floor for a full vote. This is a conversation taking place across the country, an effort to put victims’ rights in our state’s constitution, alongside the rights of the accused.

The effort is named after Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in California in 1983. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family had no idea he had been released on bail.

The proposal that worked its way through the Iowa Legislature was constructed by Iowans to fit our state’s unique perspective. Iowa has good crime victims’ rights laws, but we shouldn’t settle for good laws. It’s time to solidify those ideas in our state’s constitution and bring permanence and equality for every innocent victim of crime.

The Marsy’s Law for Iowa coalition is building across the state. We have received support from county attorneys, law enforcement groups, locally elected officials and Iowa crime victims, who bravely share their stories every day in the hopes that something will change.

Even though the Legislature failed to act this year, we will not back down because we know that innocent Iowa crime victims still deserve constitutional protections.

Victims still deserve to be notified when the accused is up for release.

Victims still deserve restitution.

Victims still deserve to be allowed to speak at sentencing hearings.

Now more than ever, victims still deserve Marsy’s Law.

• Eric Baker is state director of Marsy’s Law for Iowa

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