Victims of crime deserve equal rights - Teri
Survivor Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, from Waterford, shares why she supports Marsy's Law for Wisconsin.
Read more below or here.
Victims of crime deserve equal rights
Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
Wisconsin has a long tradition of supporting victims of crime. Our state has been a leader in the development and implementation of legislation that holds perpetrators accountable and provides services that benefit victims.
I am proud of the things we have accomplished and honored to have played a role in the passing of legislation and funding of projects that have helped victims gain a voice and better security. I have worked alongside Attorney General Brad Schimel and state Sen. Van Wanggaard who, along with state Rep. Todd Novak, has authored Marsy's Law for Wisconsin. Marsy's Law proposals have been adopted in California, Illinois, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana. Our own unique proposal is on the table now, and it is time for us to act.
As a survivor of a heinous crime committed by my ex-husband in 2004, I am aware of the statutory protections in place for Wisconsin victims. Marsy's Law for Wisconsin will enhance these laws and constitutionalize them.
Why do we need to make these protections constitutional?
Like most people, I was not aware that a defendant’s rights are constitutional, which carry more clout than a victim’s statutory rights. As an example, my ex-husband was allowed to have discovery quelled — discovery that was meaningful to the case. On the other hand, I had to submit my lifelong medical history to the defense although it was irrelevant to my condition after he beat me in the head with a baseball bat, suffocated me, dumped me in a snow-filled trash can, and left me to die in a frozen storage shed.
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin would strengthen victims’ rights in two ways. First, it would take rights that are currently the law under state statute and put them into the state Constitution, so that a violent criminal’s rights don’t automatically trump those of a victim. Second, it would clarify rights that are currently in our state’s constitution to make them stronger. In both cases, we want rights for victims that are equal to those of the accused.
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin would also expand on our current constitutional right to be heard, making clear victims will have a voice at additional proceedings like bail, plea, and parole — any time the attacker could be released.
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin would also keep private information such as the victim's home address to prevent intimidation or further acts of harm or harassment. It would guarantee the process be concluded in a reasonable timeframe, just as the accused is guaranteed.
Opponents of the measure might argue that Marsy's Law for Wisconsin disrupts due process. This is untrue and unfounded. Similar language has been on the books in several states for many years without any harm to the rights of the accused. It has been used in California since 2008 with great success, Our Wisconsin proposal is specifically written to complement the current rights both victims and the accused are uniquely afforded in our state.
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin does not affect the rights of the accused in any way. It only enhances the rights of victims so they are not second-class citizens in a process that directly impacts their lives.
Adopting the Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin’s proposal would continue our great tradition of serving the needs of victims in our state.