FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – There's renewed hope that Kentucky crime victims will receive their own set of constitutional rights.
Tuesday, the group behind "Marsy's Law" announced more than a dozen leaders are backing the legislation in Jefferson County alone. An effort to pass the plan in 2016. Marsy’s Law outlines victim’s rights.
But this time, victim's advocates are building an early base of support larger than the last time around, a bipartisan strategy they hope will bridge the divide this time.
"I do feel like this year may be the year to change some very detrimental policies and laws we have in Kentucky and make Kentucky a safer place for everyone”, Michelle Kuiper said.
Michelle Kuiper is a survivor and victim's advocate who has pushed for legislation like Marsy's Law before.
The announcement that more than a dozen Jefferson County Leaders from law enforcement and local and state government are on board already is giving her hope.
Unlike a program that may inform a victim about offender information after a conviction, Marsy's Law would give victim's constitutional rights to being informed of all court proceedings during the legal process. It also gives them rights to be present in court, be heard at any plea, sentencing or other proceedings, notification of release or escape of the accused, reasonable protection from the accused and rights to fairness and due process.
Since it would require a constitutional amendment, the passage in Frankfort would place the proposal on the November ballot for Kentuckians to decide.
“I think it's time for us as members of the General Assembly to look at the victim component of our judicial system”, Kentucky State Senator Julie Raque-Adams said.
Any attempt to alter a constitution can be a tricky proposition but the Republican State Senator from Kentucky’s 36th District points to the early organization as a sign of potential.
“Kentucky is one of only 15 states that doesn't have any sort of constitutional protection for the victims and so here we are with this whole victim population and they feel as if they have no say”, Senator Raque-Adams said.
Recent legislation has focused on second chances for certain Kentucky offenders so some Marsy's Law supporters say, while they believe in second chances, legislation like Marsy's Law would reassure victims that they are not forgotten.