[Madison, Wis.] – In case you missed it, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin passed the State Senate yesterday with a bipartisan vote of 29-4.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other news outlets covered the legislative debate, including remarks from bill sponsor State Sen. Van Wanggaard.
You can read the Journal Sentinel’s coverage here, or find excerpts below:
Wisconsin Senate votes to give crime victims new constitutional rights under Marsy’s Law
By Jason Stein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
MADISON – Crime victims would get new rights under the Wisconsin constitution, including the ability to refuse interviews with defense attorneys, under a measure passed by the Wisconsin Senate Tuesday.
Senate Joint Resolution 53, also known as Marsy’s Law, passed 29-4 and now goes to the Assembly on its long road to changing the state constitution. If it passes the Assembly, it will have to pass both houses of the Legislature again in two years and then be approved by voters in a referendum before taking effect.
“This levels the playing field,” said Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), a lead sponsor of the proposal. …
In 1980, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to adopt a “crime victim bill of rights” and in 1993 adopted a constitutional amendment to afford them privacy and ensure they are kept abreast of their cases. The latest proposal would strengthen some of the rights guaranteed in state law by writing them into the state’s charter document. …
The measure is named after Marsy Nicholas of California, who was murdered by her former boyfriend in 1983. The ex-boyfriend confronted Nicholas’ family in a grocery store a week after her death, at a time when the family did not know he had been released on bail.
Her brother, tech billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III, has led a national effort to give crime victims and their families more rights, and his group is promoting the Wisconsin proposal with billboards, digital ads, and a lobbying campaign.
You can find facts on Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin’s 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.