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Sun Sentinel: A vote for Marsy’s Law helps protect vulnerable victims of crime | Opinion

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

By: Chip LaMarca

As a Broward County Commissioner and lifelong District 4 resident, I care deeply about my fellow citizens and want to ensure their safety and quality of life. A proposal before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) called Marsy’s Law would amend our state constitution to give equal rights to crime victims. Quite simply, Proposal 96 is good public policy and I am proud to offer my support.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, commemorated this year April 8-14, is the perfect time to reflect on how our state treats innocent victims of crime and their families. Until a violent crime happens to us or someone we love, we can only imagine how it feels to be victimized — and, how scary it is to seek justice.

There is no reason vulnerable victims of crime should not have enumerated rights in our state’s most valuable legal document — yet that is currently the case in Florida. How can we tell a young girl who was raped that her rights are not weighed has heavily as the perpetrator? Why does the family whose father was murdered not receive the same basic rights afforded to the killer?

Marsy’s Law would not take away any of the rights of the accused. Instead, it would ensure crime victims and their families are no longer silenced in the criminal justice process. The thousands of Floridians who are assaulted, killed or otherwise harmed every year deserve the right to be heard. They deserve the right to be notified of any important developments in their case. They deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. All Marsy’s Law does is place those protections in the constitution, where they belong.

Fortunately, members of the CRC agree, as Proposal 96 passed favorably and has moved to the Style and Drafting Committee. Ballot language will soon be presented to the CRC for a final vote. Please let the CRC know you want the chance to vote for Marsy’s Law on the general election ballot this November. Together, we can make Florida an even better place to live.

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