Advocates want to add crime victims' rights to Georgia constitution

Source: WGCL

After passing the state Senate, the House voted Tuesday on adding rights for crime victims to the state constitution. The House also passed the resolution by a vote of 169-0.

There is already a Crime Victims Bill of Rights in Georgia, but victims and advocates who spoke with CBS46 News say there is no consistency from county to county in Georgia. They say some are better than others when it comes to notifying victims of their rights.

They say adding victims' rights to the constitution makes it a more streamlined process when it comes to them finding out about the person who hurt them.

Christy Sims is a victim of a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend in Henry County in 2013. He's serving twenty years in prison for pouring industrial grade drain cleaner on her face. Sims said it happened when she tried to break up with him.

Sims was among those who gathered at the state capitol Monday to show support for Marsy's Law.

"Marcy's Law would have given me a lot of power during that time," says Sims.

Marsy's Law adds victims' rights to the state constitution.

Supporters say Georgia is one of 14 states that don't have those constitutional rights and this ensures victims are notified throughout the judicial process and have a stronger voice.

"It's making sure they're at bond hearings, that they're at court proceedings and they're informed at every step of the way what's happening, so they're not taken off guard and someone shows up on their door," said Ann Casas, State Director of Marsy's Law for Georgia.

Kimya Motley's ex-husband is serving time for shooting her and her daughter after she told him she wanted a divorce. Now, she's helping women who were once in her position and she says Marsy's Law will help that happen.

"No rapist should have more rights than the person he raped. No abuser should have more rights than the person he abused," she said.

"Every victim should be afforded the same rights that I had, that’s why I was so surprised as I’m helping women to see that they don’t have those same rights," said Motley.

Sims said about her ex-boyfriend, "If he gets parole, there's a chance I might not be notified if he gets out early. Marsy's Law would guarantee that we are notified so we at least have some protection."

The law first passed in California in 2008, putting the state at the forefront in victim's rights. Several other states including Kentucky, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Maine are now looking to adopt similar legislation.

Marsy’s Law was named after Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after Marsy was murdered, her brother and mother walked into a grocery store after visiting Marsalee's grave and were confronted by the accused murderer. The family had no idea that he had been released on bail.

The law's website also states that while criminals have more than 20 individuals rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, the surviving family members of murder victims have none.

If the Georgia legislatures passes it, it would go on the ballot for voters in November.

Learn more about Marsy's Law.

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