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The Florida Times Union: Guest Column: Sheriff Mike Williams supports Amendment 6, Marsy’s Law

Monday, October 15, 2018

By Sheriff Mike Williams

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and unfortunately, chances are high that you know someone who has been affected in some way by this crime. It is a national issue that those of us in law enforcement deal with far too frequently.

Whether or not it’s reported, domestic violence is still a crime. It takes courage for a victim to pick up the phone and call for help and when they do, they should have their rights protected and explained to them in the same way we protect the rights of the accused.

Right now, law enforcement does not have that ability because the Florida Constitution does not clearly define what those rights are. That’s simply not right and that’s why I’m supporting Amendment 6.

Amendment 6, commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Florida, will give victims of all crimes the constitutional protections they deserve. Currently, our state constitution gives a very vague definition of what rights victims have when a crime has been committed. Amendment 6 will clearly define those rights to ensure basic, commonsense protections for crime victims. These rights do not surpass those of the accused, but rather puts the victim and the accused on equal footing.

The men and women of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office work with crime victims every day. To hear the stories of how some have been silenced in criminal proceedings is heart-breaking. One local man’s wife was brutally murdered in their home and not once has he been notified of a hearing for the man arrested for murdering her.

Others who have asked to be heard at a trial have either been denied that opportunity or simply not been informed as to the status of the case. There are also situations where a victim has been approached by their attacker after authorities failed to notify them their attacker had been released from jail. These are not hypothetical situations, these are real victims of real crimes who deserve more than to just fall through the cracks.

I took an oath to protect and defend our community and our constitution. By supporting Amendment 6, I believe I can do both to the best of my ability. Being a victim is hard enough without the fear and uncertainty that goes along with the ambiguity of our current judicial system. Together, we can change that and give victims their voices back. Join me and vote yes on Amendment 6.

Mike Williams is sheriff of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

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