[Madison, Wis.] – In case you missed it, Attorney General Brad Schimel was on The Jerry Bader Show discussing the need for Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, bipartisan legislation that would amend our state Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims.
Schimel noted that victims have “no choice” when they are thrown into the legal system, and that going through the process of amending the state Constitution is the right way to remedy inequality – strengthening rights in a way that is permanent and reflects the will of voters.
You can listen to Attorney General Schimel and radio host Jerry Bader discuss Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin here, or find excerpts below:
… I want to start with one premise that I think we all need to understand. That is that the defendant is in the courtroom, in criminal court, because they made some choices and it didn’t end well. The crime victim ends up in that courtroom and in that process by making no choice. They are dragged in kicking and screaming for something they didn’t plan in their life. And it is an inconvenience and it can be painful, it can be embarrassing. There are so many things that make this an unpleasant experience for the crime victim.
Now, Wisconsin has long been a leader in the nation in respecting crime victims’ rights. In 1980 Wisconsin passed America’s first crime victim bill of rights in the statutes. In 1993 we passed a constitutional amendment. Now that did not take all of the statuary rights and make them constitutional. That’s one of the things that it, Marsy’s Law, seeks to do, is make those rights that are in the statutes constitutional. When something is a constitutional right it has much more power in the courtroom. Constitutional rights always trump statutory rights because each legislator could change statutes as they wish. The constitution is much more difficult to change.
… I’ll give you a specific example, if someone was on probation or suspended supervision and was collecting their fees for probation suspension before the victim was given restitution under prior Wisconsin statutes. We fixed it. We want to put it in the Constitution. We don’t want government collecting its money before the victim [is] reimbursed …
About Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin is a grassroots coalition that has developed a unique proposal to give victims of crime equal rights in our state, building on Wisconsin’s laws and history of leading on this issue. Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.
Victims and supporters interested in sharing their stories can email Wisconsin@marsyslaw.us.