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Marsy’s Law takes effect in Kentucky

Marsy’s Law has been championed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of Kentucky legislators, victim advocates, and community organizations across the state.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Marsy's Law is officially in effect in Kentucky.

The Kentucky State Board of Elections on Friday, November 20, certified the results of the November 2020 general election and more than 63% of voters approved Amendment 1, which was Marsy's Law on the ballot.

The Bluegrass State was previously one of only 15 states that did not protect victims’ rights in its constitution, advocates for the law said in a news release.

“Today is a truly historic day in our Commonwealth," said Dr. Emily Bonistall Postel, Marsy’s Law for Kentucky director of outreach.  "At long last, survivors and their families have secured the dignity and voice they deserve within the very system they are counting on to carry out justice,”

Marsy’s Law for Kentucky has been championed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of state legislators, victim advocates, and community organizations across the Commonwealth, the release states.

The law is named after Marsy Nicholas, a 21-year-old California student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

Credit: WHAS11 News

Supporters like Bonistall have been fighting for Marsy’s Law in Kentucky for years. It will provide crime victims with specific constitutional rights, such as the right to be present at trials and notified about the release of the accused.

According to the outreach group, more than 16,000 violent crimes are reported in Kentucky each year. Marsy’s Law ensures victims constitutionally guaranteed rights, including the right to be notified, present, and heard in court proceedings.

The law's passage was criticized by some. After it passed, the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the ACLU of Kentucky say they were disappointed in the vote. 

In a statement to WHAS11 the KACDL said in part: 

"We honor the process and remain proud that our work in 2018 required voters to be presented with the text of the amendment instead of a misleading question. KACDL still strongly advises that this constitutional amendment comes with convoluted consequences and will not be an adequate answer to problems victims face. KACDL's grave concerns about this amendment's potential impact on Kentucky's justice system remain."

The Communications director of the ACLU of Kentucky Angela Cooper said the language of the amendment is confusing.

"Marsy’s Law sounds like a really good thing and at the ACLU we believe in survivors, we support victims’ rights however this is an empty promise," Cooper said. "There’s no money behind it, it can cost the state millions that we don’t have and the state actually already has some really great victims protection in place."

To see the full list of victims’ rights that are protected click on Marsy’s Law.

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