Marsy's Law for Wisconsin, Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, and Wisconsin Department of Justice Collaborate to “Map” Victims’ Journeys through the Criminal Justice Process

MILWAUKEE, WI - Marsy's Law for Wisconsin has joined forces with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office and the Wisconsin Department of Justice on a session at Sojourner Family Peace Center this week aimed at better outcomes for victims in the criminal justice process.

The groups will convene stakeholders from the criminal justice system and victim service organizations to literally “map” the journey of a victim through the criminal justice system – from the initial call to law enforcement all the way to post-conviction proceedings. 

Their efforts will help improve the understanding of the path crime victims face and look for opportunities to improve victim service delivery. The objective is to empower victims by improving their access to their rights, ensuring they are easily and effectively exercised. 

Attendees will be examining how the rights provided to victims under Wisconsin’s nearly four-year-old crime victims’ rights constitutional amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, impacts the criminal justice system and its processes specifically in Milwaukee County. The project will look at who victims interact with at each “touch point” of the criminal justice process to better identify both positive outcomes since the implementation of Marsy’s Law in 2020 and areas in need of more progress. The group will examine the experiences of hypothetical sexual assault and domestic violence victims.

“As we travel in life, maps help guide all of us to where we want to go. Our mapping exercises are aimed at helping our state get to the place we want to be when it comes to providing strong, meaningful rights for victims of crime and fulfill the promise of Marsy’s Law, which was supported with over 75 percent of the vote,” said Nela Kalpic, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin State Director. “We will persevere until each and every victim attains unfettered access to the constitutional rights bestowed upon them.”

“By charting the path taken by a crime victim in Milwaukee County, all parties involved can enhance their readiness to provide crime victims in our community with the comprehensive range of rights and services they rightly deserve and that are readily accessible to them,” said Matthew Torbenson, Milwaukee County Deputy District Attorney

“At Sojourner Family Peace Center, we witness firsthand the significance of empowering victims with knowledge of their rights and ensuring they receive equitable, dignified, and compassionate treatment while navigating the justice system,” said Carmen Pitre, Executive Director, Sojourner Family Peace Center.

“Understanding how victims interact with the stakeholders in the justice system, beginning from the point of a crime being reported to post-sentencing, is a crucial step towards ensuring that victims’ rights are meaningful and that support systems for victims are continuously improved,” said Erin Welsh, Deputy Director, Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services. “By identifying the loopholes in the current system, system partners and policy-makers can take necessary measures to address them to ensure all victims are treated fairly and receive the assistance they need.”

The mapping exercise will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11 at Sojourner Family Peace Center, 619 W. Walnut Street in Milwaukee.

Leading the exercise will be David Perlman, a professional involved in special projects for the Wisconsin State Courts. Joining him will be Assistant Attorney General Miriam Falk, Nela Kalpic, the State Director for Marsy's Law in Wisconsin, and Erin Welsh, Deputy Director of the Office of Crime Victim Services. Together, they bring a wealth of expertise and dedication to this important endeavor.

The meeting will also involve representatives from various criminal justice stakeholders, including the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the courts, the Department of Corrections, the Public Defender’s Office and victim service organizations including Sojourner Family Peace Center, Asha Project, UMOS, and several others.

This will be the seventh mapping exercise in the last 19 months conducted by Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Justice. These exercises have provided valuable data for analyzing the statewide implementation of the amendment. Based on these findings, recommendations on best practices have been and will continue to be developed.


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. To honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.