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Letter: Proud to Co-Sponsor Marsy’s Law

April 15, 2016
Gail Mooney - N.D. Dist. 20 Representative , Pierce County Tribune

In early December last year, I received an invitation to co-sponsor Marsy's Law for North Dakota, a ballot measure to amend the North Dakota Constitution for the assurances of fundamental rights for victims and their families. I was stunned. It had simply never occurred to me that a victim would not have the same rights as their offender.

North Dakota has statutory laws that provide for certain victim's rights, but interpretation of these laws, availability of resources, and conventional mindsets all contribute to challenges experienced by victims or their families after enduring a crime. Inconsistencies in communications and inadequate distribution of information are a reality for many in our state, aggravating the trauma already experienced.

As a constitutional amendment, Marsy's Law for North Dakota, elevates the rights of victims to the same level of importance as their offender - no more, but certainly no less. The provisions of Marsy's Law include the right to be treated with fairness and respect; to be free from intimidation; reasonable protection from the accused; right to notice when the accused offender is released from incarceration; the right to be heard in proceedings of release - and other sensible elements.

This week, April 10 - 16, is National Crime Victim's Rights Week. Available online, the Presidential Proclamation begins with this paragraph -

"In the aftermath of a crime, it is imperative that victims have access to the resources they need to recover and to ensure that justice is done. During the 35th National Crime Victims' Rights Week, we stand with victims and their families, and we strive to ensure every person -- regardless of age, color, or creed -- who is victimized by crime knows they are protected, respected, and heard."

Powerful words. Marsy's Law elevates this principle into constitutional responsibility. In honor of the week, and all victims and their families, I invite you to learn more about Marsy's Law for North Dakota by going to marsyslaw.us/marsys-law-state-efforts/north-dakota/. Download the amendment, read victim accounts, and find out how you can be engaged.

As a public servant who has had the privilege of working with a great many advocates, law enforcement, attorneys and justices, I think it is safe to say we all wish to do what is best for individuals who've had the great misfortune to become the victim of a crime. This amendment levels that playing field. Victims, and their families, deserve no less.

I'm proud to co-sponsor Marsy's Law for North Dakota, and am grateful the people of North Dakota will have the opportunity to make their voices heard on this in November.

Gail Mooney

ND Representative, Dist. 20

 
 

 

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