Marsy's Law for Wisconsin Hosts Eau Claire County National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Virtual Roundtable
Survivors, advocates work to educate Wisconsinites about their rights under the new crime victims' constitutional amendment enacted one year ago
MADISON – In recognition of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW), Marsy's Law for Wisconsin today held a virtual roundtable discussion focused on educating Wisconsinites about their rights under the new crime victims' constitutional amendment enacted one year ago. The annual observation of NCVRW comes just after the one-year anniversary of last year’s decisive victory for victims’ rights in the spring election, when 75 percent of Wisconsin residents cast votes in favor of the crime victims’ constitutional amendment commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin.
Participants in today’s event included victim advocates and legal system stakeholders, who addressed some of the ways the new crime victims’ constitutional amendment has empowered crime victims in Wisconsin’s criminal justice process. The discussion was moderated by Assistant Attorney General Miriam Falk.
“The culture around victim services in Wisconsin has been one of development—moving it forward constantly—and with Marsy‘s Law we see another iteration of that, that hopefully can bring about a greater form of equity that we’ve been striving for for quite some time,” said Bronson Stein, Legal Advocate at Bolton Refuge House.
“With Marsy’s Law, one thing that’s really changed in our service providing is that we are really having more direct client contact—victim contact,” added Jessica Bryan, Eau Claire County Victim Witness Coordinator. “I really feel like it is humanizing our process more by having that direct client contact rather than just a letter in the mail—not knowing whether a victim read it, not knowing if they understand their rights. So that is something that I feel like Marsy‘s Law has really changed in our area for us.”
Other panelists touched on the challenges that criminal justice system stakeholders have had to navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic, and looked ahead to the ongoing implementation of Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin.
“We are doing a better job of just implementing the practices that go along with Marsy’s Law,” said Bridget Coit, Eau Claire Police Department Sergeant. “So, I referenced the lethality assessment form and practices, and connecting them with an advocate, and that trauma-informed care, and that empathy and respect—I think is definitely improving and we hope to improve further on those practices that Marsy’s Law helps implement.”
“We also implemented Marsy’s Law through the haze of Covid restrictions, so I think in the next year we’ll probably see what that looks like a little bit more as we’re returning more to face-to-face interactions and kind of returning more to whatever the new normal is,” added Crystal Jensen, Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney.
Today’s panel discussion was the second of three such events taking place in Wisconsin throughout NCVRW. A list of future events is available on the Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin website.
“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a perfect opportunity to highlight victims’ rights here in Wisconsin,” said Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Outreach Director Nela Kalpic. “As we look back on the first year of Marsy’s Law in action, we’re incredibly grateful to all of the stakeholders who participated in this panel and helped us educate Eau Claire County residents about their rights under the crime victims' constitutional amendment.”
You can watch a video of the roundtable online.
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.