MADISON – In case you missed it, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin advocates recently joined WisconsinEye Senior Producer Steve Walters for an unedited, on-camera interview making the case for Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin.
Survivors Teri Jendusa Nicolai and Keaira Damron-Stine appear alongside Attorney General Brad Schimel and Senator Van Wanggaard to discuss the reasons they have each joined the fight for equal rights for crime victims.
You can watch the full panel interview here, or find excerpts quoted below:
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel:
“I was a frontline prosecutor for 25 years before becoming AG, and we all want safer communities. But I’ll tell you from experience… we cannot make our communities safe from criminals if we can’t hold them accountable, and we cannot hold criminals accountable unless crime victims are willing to come forward. A crime victim doesn’t want to come to court, and frankly, they’re the only person in the courtroom that didn’t make some choice that brought them there. They’re forced to be there, and we need to treat them with dignity and respect… this is the logical next step… Marsy’s Law is about turning crime victims into survivors.”
Teri Jendusa Nicolai, assault survivor and Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin State Chair:
“Wisconsin does have a really good tradition of being in the corner of victims. This is just the natural next step, I believe… it gives the victims a voice in the courtroom and I think it makes them feel more powerful… When victims see that everyone is on their side, it’s much easier to come out and tell your story… It might be painful, but it is very important that they do come forward to stop this behavior. Next time it’s going to be somebody else’s daughter… People have to know that they can come out and speak about it, to change things.”
Keaira Damron-Stine, domestic abuse survivor and Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin supporter:
“This is the next step. This is making us, as victims, confident enough to come forward with our stories and know that we are at that same level in the courtroom, in the proceedings, in the process… It’s almost like the victim becomes the person that’s on trial. We have to work twice as hard to prove that what happened to us happened to us, and having Marsy’s Law in effect would encourage us to come forward knowing that we have a team of people that are there to support us. ”
Senator Van Wanggaard, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Senate Author:
“Victims are so important to this whole process that they need to have the same level of rights that the offenders have… for me, it’s very, very important that the victims have a voice and they have the ability to have closure with what caused the event to happen to begin with.”
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.