MADISON – In case you missed it, prominent victims’ rights proponent and Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin State Chairwoman Teri Jendusa Nicolai was recently interviewed by Rock 94.7’s Terry Stevens about Marsy’s Law’s bipartisan efforts to amend the Wisconsin constitution to strengthen the rights of crime victims.
You can listen to the full interview from Rock 94.7 online here or find excerpts quoted below:
Interview with Marsy’s Law WI Chairperson, Teri Jendusa Nicolai
March 5, 2018
Terry: “So Teri, get us up to speed on Marsy’s Law, because my mind was blown when I found out that it wasn’t already a thing.”
Teri: “Yes, and that’s what I’ve heard all along is people say, ‘I can’t believe this isn’t in place already, why is this not in place?’ … Wisconsin, you know, we’ve always had a really good tradition of taking care of victims and victims’ rights. What we’re trying to do is take victims’ rights that may already be there, but at a statutory level, and raise those up to a constitutional level. Because, you know, criminals have constitutional rights… This gives the victim more voice. It gives the victim more empowerment…. I think the more we help victims the more they will come forward, the more we can get these criminals behind bars.”
Terry: “Absolutely. On a personal note, many, many years ago I lost a relative to a drunk driver, and I couldn’t imagine the look on her surviving family’s face if they just ran into that guy at the grocery store—just free and on the street, with no notice of him being released. And that’s the situation that victims of crime in Wisconsin could end up facing.”
Teri: “And that is why our founder decided that this is something he needed to do. His sister Marsy was killed by a boyfriend… and that’s exactly what happened. He and his mom ran into the murderer at the grocery store. So this would tell you: this person is released, this person is about to be released. It would give them more information, again, so you could steer clear of that person or do what you feel need to do to keep yourself safe.”
Terry: “I just can’t believe that that’s not already a thing in Wisconsin.”
Teri: “No, and you know, people tell me all the time too, they can’t believe that criminals have rights that are constitutional, ok, so they have really strong rights. People can’t believe that the victim’s rights aren’t as strong. Here you have a person that didn’t do anything wrong and had something happen to them through no fault of their own, and their rights aren’t as clear and aren’t as strong as a person who purposely knew that they were doing something against the law.”
You can see a full list of Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin’s 350 endorsements here and find facts on our bipartisan legislation below:
- Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin follows a proud tradition in our state of protecting victims’ rights, unlike many other states. Wisconsin already has a constitutional amendment on victims’ rights that passed in 1993, and was the first state in the nation to pass a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. The state also is recognized as having some of the strongest statutory rights for victims in the country. This means the changes we are proposing are about making sure victims’ rights are truly equal alongside the constitutional rights of the accused – nothing more, nothing less.
- Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin strengthens rights that already exist in Wisconsin. The proposed amendment would do two things: Elevate certain rights currently under state statute to be fully constitutional rights, and strengthen other rights that are already part of the Constitution.
- Nearly 80 percent of Wisconsinites support updating our state Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims. A poll of Wisconsinites found that nearly 80 percent support updating our state Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims. More than 80 percent support a victim’s right to speak up at more points in the criminal justice process, and 68 percent said they were “more likely” to support a state legislative candidate who supported Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin. The bipartisan legislation must be passed in the state Legislature twice, then by voters at the ballot box.
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.