Proposed constitutional amendment will give crime victims additional protections

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A collection is underway for signatures to a crime victim’s bill of rights. The proposed constitutional amendment is called Marsy’s Law, which gives additional protections to crime victims and their families.

NBC4 spoke with two women who say they were re-victimized by the court system.

Danielle Morlan says her estranged husband stalked her. For two years, she and her children lived in constant fear.

“I cannot describe how much the entire process and outcome have shaken my faith in fairness of the criminal justice process,” says Morlan.

She says her husband at the time ran her and her children off the road several times, and violated a protection order against him. She says after the divorce, a judge dropped all charges against him, saying he had not received a speedy trial.

“I also felt re-victimized when at one point a protection order was dropped and the perpetrator knew about it before I did,” Morlan says.

Under the proposed law, crime victims would be kept in the loop at every step of the legal process. Organizers say the idea is to get a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot so lawmakers can’t change it.

Anna Herb says she was sexually abused as a young girl.

“I had over 23 continuances over a two-year-process, which was just heartbreaking,” she said.

“For the court system to pretty much without words tell me that I wasn’t important, that he was more important was really hard,” said Herb, adding it would have been easy to fall into a deep depression. Instead she says she and her mother fought to help prosecute the man who she says molested her and a younger girl.

“Marsy’s Law for Ohio will elevate crime victims to equal footing with defendants to make sure crime victims are treated with fairness, dignity and respect, and will receive equal protections and access to justice,” says Cathy Harper Lee, with the Crime Victims Justice Center.

The group will need 305,000 valid signatures by July 5th to get the amendment on the November ballot.

Organizer Aaron Marshall says they have already started collecting signatures using paid and volunteer workers. He says they will have to collect a certain number of signatures in 44 counties. He says hurdles have already been cleared at both the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ballot Board.

Marsy’s Law has passed in five other states including California,  where Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

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