Campaign for constitutional amendment aims to give crime victims a voice

Updated: Feb. 28, 2020 at 6:54 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Crime victims are asking for a voice. A bill is pending at the State Capitol now and it proposes a constitutional amendment to strengthen crime victims’ rights.

Mississippi currently has a crime victims’ bill of rights in law, but a law can be changed. So, the attempt is to get it enshrined in the State Constitution.

The trauma, grief and what’s next... for crime victims and their families is often complicated. Lucinda Wade Robinson knows it all too well.

“Our son was murdered in 2014," explained Lucinda Wade Robinson. "He was murdered in front of our home.”

But she says they were treated more like they were the criminals than the victims.

“It made the grieving worse," added Robinson. “The things that were said, how we were made the grieving process even worse. Like you’re just treated as another number. And like I tell people, put yourself in my shoes. What if this happened to you and your family? How would you feel? Be more sensitive to the victims and listen to them.”

Rep. Fred Shanks says Marsy’s Law would inject the system with a needed support for victims.

“Currently an offender has several constitutional rights," said Shanks. "A victim has none. So, what this will do is it will even the playing field. It will give the same amount of rights to a victim that an offender already has.”

Shanks says it would give them a voice in court proceedings and provide for better notifications when the offender is being released or has a new step on the court system.

“Courts around the state have a system of notifying victims but unfortunately there are victims who still fall through the cracks,” added Shanks.

No one was ever charged for the murder of Robinson’s son. So, it’s not as much about notifications from her perspective as it is being afforded a voice as the victim’s family.

“I just want what’s right and what’s due to the crime victims,” said Robinson.

House Concurrent Resolution 35 has passed out of a House Committee. But it will need to be approved by 2/3 of both the House and Senate. If it is, you’ll see it on November’s ballot.

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