LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky took a big step Wednesday to offer crime victims more protection.
The state Senate overwhelmingly passed Marsy’s Law, a bill named after a California murder victim. The bill received 34 “yes” votes with just one senator voting against it.
If it clears the House, voters will have a say on the November ballot. The legislation requires a public vote, since it would add a Victim’s Bill of Rights to the state constitution.
Marsy’s Law would guarantee crime victims’ rights in the court process, including considering their safety when setting bail and release conditions. It would also guarantee victims the right to be notified of hearings, the right to be heard in court proceeding and the right to attend.
Kentucky Sen. Whitney Westerfield sponsored the bill and said current state law does not do enough to protect victims’ rights.
“They have no standing to assert those rights to ask for any sort of remedy should one be violated,” Westerfield said.
Critics, like the Kentucky ACLU, said the bill will not do what it claims, because the legislation does not include funding for advocacy programs to help victims in need insure their rights are not violated.
ACLU attorney Heather Gatnarek said it will interfere with the right of the accused to have a fair trial.
“What it will do is confuse and burden Kentucky’s justice system,” Gatnarek said.
Crime victim Misty Tweedy lost her 18-year-old son Jericho Moore, who was found shot and killed in Louisville this June near 28th and Dumesnil Streets.
Tweedy said the legislation would be a big step forward but will not solve all the struggles crime victims face.
“This is a happy moment for us,” Tweedy said. “We need help.”
The bill now moves to the Kentucky House. If approved, it would go before voters in November to amend the state constitution.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.