Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Holds Informational Session
Grassroots organizations working to help educate Wisconsin victim service organizations about new crime victims’ constitutional amendment
MADISON – The grassroots organization that helped champion the new crime victims’ constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin recently held a digital informational session intended to help educate victim service agencies around the state about the new rights for Wisconsinites under Marsy’s Law. The crime victims’ constitutional amendment was recently approved in an overwhelming April referendum vote, with 75% of Wisconsin voters favoring the measure.
“We’re so grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with some of Wisconsin’s fantastic victim services organizations to further the understanding of the new constitutional amendment,” said Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Outreach Director Nela Kalpic, who led the informational session. “We know that stakeholders in the law enforcement and victim services communities are working hard to apply the new amendment and ensure that victims are granted their constitutionally guaranteed rights, and we look forward to continuing to be a resource as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin is implemented.”
The session featured Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Bob Kaiser and National Crime Victim Law Institute Executive Director Meg Garvin, who presented information on the new amendment and took questions from representatives of victim service organizations around Wisconsin.
Drawing on decades of expertise as a leading voice on victims’ rights, Garvin helped explain the role of advocates in interpretation and application of the new crime victims’ constitutional amendment. “What Marsy’s Law does is make us ask survivors ‘what would it mean to you for this right to be meaningful – to be meaningfully present? To have privacy your privacy respected? To have meaningful protection,” said Garvin. “With this information, we as advocates then figure out what are all the options, we talk with our clients—with our survivors—about which option would work best for them, and then we help advocate for that.”
Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Bob Kaiser addressed legal interpretations of the new rights within law enforcement agencies as they work with victim advocates. “One of the important aspects of Marsy’s Law of Wisconsin and meetings like this is it gives you, the advocates, an opportunity to get as best an understanding as you can, and the more of these conversations we can have through Marsy’s Law for the advocates the better it will be for you to empower victims to make the most important decision they have to make—in our view as a prosecutor—which is to participate in the system at all,” said Kaiser. “What I’m hoping we can make clear to them is that if they choose to participate, this law gives them rights that are constitutional in nature and which will be supportive of their efforts to survive and come out stronger.”
The session is the first of many educational opportunities the Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin organization intends to make available as Wisconsin applies the new constitutional amendment to the criminal justice system.
About Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin is a grassroots coalition that championed 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. The crime victims’ rights state constitutional amendment, also known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, was ratified during the April 7, 2020 election with an overwhelming 75 percent of voters in support. 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 [email protected].