Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Celebrates 3rd Anniversary of Historic Statewide Vote

MADISON Today marks the three-year anniversary of the historic statewide vote on the crime victims’ constitutional amendment commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin.

The measure was approved by an overwhelming margin during the 2020 spring election with 75 percent of voters — 1.1 million Wisconsin residents — supporting the crime victims’ constitutional amendment.

To mark the three-year anniversary of the Marsy’s Law ratification vote, crime victim advocates from across the state are praising the impact the amendment has had in the Badger State.

“Ensuring that the rights of crime victims are respected both makes Wisconsin safer and is an important part of achieving justice,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “I’m proud of the excellent work the Wisconsin Department of Justice does to stand up for victims in Wisconsin.”

“Marsy’s Law has provided victims with enumerated constitutional rights and their voices are now being heard more than ever in courtrooms across Wisconsin,” said Eric Toney, Fond du Lac County District Attorney and President of the Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association. “This is empowering survivors to be more active participants throughout the entire criminal justice process. In the last three years, Marsy’s Law has changed the culture in our criminal justice system for the better.”

“As the sheriff of Brown County, I have seen firsthand the positive impact Marsy’s Law has had on crime victims as well as those closest to them,” said Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain. “It has been a privilege to work alongside other victim advocates to ensure crime victims know their rights and feel as comfortable as they can during an already complicated legal system.” 

“Working with survivors, I’ve been fortunate to witness firsthand the tremendous impact Marsy’s Law has had for crime victims in Wisconsin over the last three years,” said Bronson Stein, legal advocate at Bolton Refuge House. Thanks to Marsy’s Law, victims are now in the forefront of the legal process – their voices no longer subjugated to a lower tier in the criminal justice process.”

Jen Dunn, Director of the Waukesha County Victim Witness Assistance Program, shared, “Marsy’s Law re-ignited the conversation around victims’ rights in our state over the past three years.  The ratification of Marsy’s Law complemented our existing constitutional amendment for victims’ rights and strengthened our ability to do the work that has been done for so many years by victim service providers in Wisconsin.”

Since taking effect in 2020, countless Wisconsin crime victims have utilized the new rights provided under Marsy’s Law. Examples of Marsy’s Law at work include: 

  • Just days after Marsy’s Law went into effect, a Kenosha County victim of sexual assault and attempted homicide was able to exercise her new right to be heard in court at a bond hearing to ask the judge not to grant her attacker the release he was seeking. 
  • In Dane County, a sister of a drunk driving victim was able to speak in court and, because of her right to privacy under Marsy’s Law, her name was kept private at her request. 
  • And, in Waukesha County, Marsy’s Law rights were cited when an effort was made to change the venue and postpone the trial of the man convicted of killing six people at the Waukesha Christmas Parade. 

The amendment was approved in 2019 for placement on the April 2020 ballot after passing the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly with broad bipartisan support in two consecutive legislative sessions. The overwhelming ratification vote marked the final procedural step for the now approved constitutional amendment.