Press Room

For all press related questions, please contact Jennifer Fennell at Jennifer@coremessage.com or 850-222-3767

Sheriff supports Amendment 6

We are all familiar with federal and state laws that provide those accused and convicted of a crime with clear protections to ensure due process. However, many are surprised to learn crime victims don’t have any clear, enforceable rights within the state constitution. This means that, legally, crime victims have less rights than criminals. Individuals do not ask to become crime victims, and as law enforcement, we want to do everything we can to protect them from the physical, psychological and economic effects they suffer as a result. However, our hands are often tied. We took an oath to enforce the law, and the law does not offer enforceable rights for crime victims.


As a sheriff, I’ve witnessed firsthand how crime can destroy people’s lives and the community. I firmly believe we need constitutional provisions that protect the rights of victims as fiercely as the rights of the accused — nothing more, and nothing less. Marsy’s Law for Florida will appear on the ballot this November as Amendment 6. If passed by 60 percent of voters, crime victims will be entitled to the same rights as those accused and convicted of a crime.


I joined dozens of my fellow Florida sheriffs in endorsing Amendment 6 because I believe Marsy’s Law will not only benefit our state, but also improve the way we deal with crime and its victims. Marsy’s Law will finally give crime victims the rights they deserve while ensuring the rights for those accused of a crime remain unchanged.


Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr.,
Walton County

Read more in the Walton Sun.

Sheriff Michael Chitwood: Amendment 6 brings balance to the justice system

When you enter law enforcement, you take an oath to support and maintain the U.S. Constitution, the laws of the United States and the laws of your state. While that entails a great many things, it means that I and my deputies must ensure that everyone who is accused or convicted of a crime is afforded the 20 distinct rights in the U.S. Constitution to which they are entitled. These are important protections that ensure fairness and impartiality in the pursuit of justice.

However, I also swore to serve and protect all the residents of my county, including those who were victimized. Right now, the rights and protections we can offer Floridians who become victims are, unfortunately, limited.

Currently, there are no clear, enforceable rights and protections for victims outlined in either the U.S. or Florida constitutions. Imagine telling the father of a child killed in a drunk-driving accident that he will have less standing in court than the person accused of driving under the influence and causing the accident? Imagine a rape victim discovering personal information about her and her family is available to the accused rapist, leaving her and her family members vulnerable to harassment or worse?

Sadly, these are scenarios that play out every day in communities across our state. Floridians have the opportunity to change this.

In November, Florida voters can decide if there should be distinct rights and protections for victims in our state constitution through a proposed constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law for Florida (Amendment 6 on your ballot).

Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would provide crime victims with rights that are equal to — not more than — the rights already provided to the accused and convicted. Victims just want access to the same kinds of information and opportunities provided to the defendants.

Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law would provide some basic, commonsense rights, such as the right to be notified about any court proceedings related to their case, the right to speak at plea and sentencing hearings, the right to privacy, and the right to know if their perpetrator is about to be released from prison.

These are people who were thrown into an often scary, confusing and traumatizing criminal-justice system through no fault of their own. Once they get there, they just want to be heard and to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

As a second-generation law-enforcement officer, who has dedicated the past 30 years of my life to protecting the innocent and pursuing the guilty, I can tell you we have a system that needs more balance. Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida will bring that balance to our court system and improve the overall delivery of justice for everyone.

I strongly support and endorse Marsy’s Law for Florida, and I encourage Volusia residents to do the same by casting a “yes” vote for Amendment 6 this fall.

— Michael J. Chitwood is the Volusia County sheriff.

Read more in the West Volusia Beacon.

Sadie Darnell: Crime victims need constitutional protections

Recently, I joined more than three dozen Florida sheriffs in endorsing Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, a proposal that would add a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights to the Florida Constitution. If passed by 60 percent of voters this November, Amendment 6 will provide victims with rights and protections that are equal to, not greater than, the rights and protections already provided the accused and convicted.

As law enforcement officers, we are usually the first ones at the scene of a crime. We are among the first people victims encounter. We have seen the emotional and physical trauma they have endured. We work tirelessly to help them recover and heal, but without clear constitutional protections in place, victims’ rights are sometimes compromised, despite our best efforts.

Victims deserve to be notified when the defendant is released from prison. They deserve to be informed of hearings and provided a voice during these events. They deserve to be compensated for their loss. Most importantly, victims deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion. These rights seem so straightforward and ingrained, yet none of the protections listed above are stated in the Florida Constitution in an enforceable manner.

In 2017, 1,645 people were victims of violent crime in Alachua County. Most likely, someone you know is on that list, whether it’s family, friends, colleagues or neighbors. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office strives to treat each crime victim the way we’d hope a loved one would be treated in a similar situation, but sometimes our hands are tied. As law officers, we must protect and serve our state while strictly adhering to constitutional provisions. Unlike those accused of a crime, victims do not have specific rights outlined in the constitution. In the eyes of the law, the criminal’s rights are stronger than the victim’s.

A grieving father is not constitutionally mandated to be notified of any hearings in the trial against his child’s murderer. A sexual assault victim might not be permitted to tell the court about the assault’s impact on his/her life. An attempted murderer could be released on parole without any regard to the victim’s safety. Crime victims and their families already feel powerless about their situation. Not providing them with a voice is demeaning and demoralizing.

I took an oath that I will support, protect and defend our constitution. That means I am committed to upholding the rights of the accused under the Sixth Amendment. I cannot and will not support any measure that disputes their rights. But, I firmly believe protecting the rights of the accused while also protecting the rights of crime victims are not mutually exclusive. Marsy’s Law is an excellent policy proposal to meet the needs of all parties in the case.

I am proud to join my colleagues across the state, as well as the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association, in lending my support to Marsy’s Law. I encourage voters to voice their support for victims’ rights on the ballot this fall.

Sadie Darnell is Alachua County sheriff.

Read more in the Gainesville Sun.

Florida Clerks of Court Endorse Amendment 6/ Marsy’s Law for Florida

Clerks of the Court from 17 Florida counties have announced their endorsement of Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, which would place equal rights and protections for victims in the state constitution if supported by voters. Endorsing Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida are:

  • Baker County Clerk of Courts Stacie Harvey
  • Bradford County Clerk of Courts Ray Norman
  • Citrus County Clerk of Courts Angela Vick
  • Clay County Clerk of Courts Tara Green
  • Franklin County Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson
  • Hendry County Clerk of Courts Barbara Butler
  • Hernando County Clerk of Courts Don Barbee
  • Indian River County Clerk of Courts Jeff Smith
  • Lee County Clerk of Courts Linda Doggett
  • Manatee County Clerk of Courts Angelina Colonneso
  • Martin County Clerk of Courts Carolyn Timmann
  • Okeechobee County Clerk of Courts Sharon Robertson
  • Pasco County Clerk of Courts Paula O’Neil
  • Pinellas County Clerk of Courts Ken Burke
  • Putnam County Clerk of Courts Tim Smith
  • Polk County Clerk of Courts Stacy Butterfield
  • Wakulla County Clerk of Courts Brent Thurmond

 

“As Clerk of the Circuit Court, my office interacts with victims, survivors, and their families on a daily basis,” said Martin County Clerk of the Court Carolyn Timmann. “Rights of crime victims belong in the Florida Constitution and Amendment 6 allows victims of crime to ‘opt-in’ to receive notification of all legal proceedings, and the rights of privacy, to be heard, and to be protected from harassment. Marsy’s Law will help give victims the dignity and respect they deserve. I encourage everyone to vote yes on Amendment 6 – Marsy’s Law.”

In addition to the Clerks of Court, 10 state attorneys have announced their support for Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, as well as members of the state’s law enforcement community. Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida has been endorsed by more than half of the state’s sheriffs, Florida Police Chiefs Association and Florida Sheriffs Association.

Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida will be on the November 2018 General Election ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment. If passed by a margin of 60 percent or more of Florida voters, Amendment 6 would place a Crime Victims Bill of Rights in the state constitution. Including a Crime Victims Bill of Rights in the state constitution would ensure crime victims have clear, enforceable rights that are equal to, not greater than, the rights of the accused and convicted.

The measure was approved and placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in April.

For more information on Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, visit https://www.marsyslawforfl.com/what_is_marsy_s_law_for_florida.

 

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About Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.

Law Enforcement Leadership Continue to Endorse Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida

Law enforcement leadership from across the state continue to endorse Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, which would place equal rights and protections for victims in the state constitution if supported by voters. Endorsing Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida are:

  • Retired Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti
  • Dixie County Sheriff Dewey Hatcher
  • Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan
  • Glades County Sheriff David Hardin
  • Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar
  • Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams
  • Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell
  • Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods
  • Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper
  • Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen
  • Osceola County Sheriff Russell Gibson
  • Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd
  • Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach
  • Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan J. Perez

Previously endorsed by sheriffs from 24 counties, the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association, Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida now has the support of more than half of the state’s sheriffs.  

A proposed constitutional amendment, Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida will be on the November 2018 General Election ballot. If passed by a margin of 60 percent or more of Florida voters, Amendment 6 would place a Crime Victims Bill of Rights in the state constitution. Enshrining a Crime Victims Bill of Rights in the state constitution would ensure crime victims have clear, enforceable rights that are equal to, not greater than, the rights of the accused and convicted.

Amendment 6/Marsy’s for Florida was approved and placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in April.

The measure has also received the support of Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis, State Senator Lauren Book, State Senator Darryl Rouson, Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, former Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Wansley Walters, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, Retired Florida Judge Frank Shepherd, Indian River County Tax Collector Carole Jean Jordan, State Attorney Andrew Warren (13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County) State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle (11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County) State Attorney R.J. Larizza (7th Judicial Circuit, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties), State Attorney Brad King (5th Judicial Circuit, Marion, Lake, Citrus, Sumter, Hernando Counties), State Attorney Dave Aronberg (15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County), and former State Attorneys Rod Smith of Gainesville and Willie Meggs of Tallahassee.

About Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.

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CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION APPROVES MARSY’S LAW FOR THE 2018 GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 16, 2018

Jennifer Fennell, CoreMessage

(850) 597-0057, jennifer@coremessage.com

 

Constitution Revision Commission Approves  Marsy’s Law for the 2018 General Election Ballot

Amendment Would Create Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights for the Florida Constitution 

Tallahassee, FL – The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) today voted in favor of placing a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights on the 2018 General Election ballot in November. The measure, sponsored by Commissioner Tim Cerio, passed with a final vote of 34 to 3. This will be the first CRC proposed constitutional amendment placed on the ballot. 

Criminals and those accused of crimes have 20 distinct rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Victims, survivors, and their families are provided no rights under the U.S. Constitution. Most states have addressed this disparity by adding victims’ rights and protections into their state constitutions. Florida is one of only 15 states that does not provide clear, enforceable rights for victims of crimes in its constitution.

Governor Rick Scott said, “I applaud the Constitution Revision Commission on their decision to include Marsy’s Law on the ballot this fall. We have taken important steps in Florida to protect those who need it most, and we must continue to make it absolutely clear that our state stands strongly with victims.” 

“As a survivor of sexual assault and an advocate for other survivors, I am heartened by today’s Constitution Revision Commission vote in favor of Marsy’s Law for Florida. Florida voters will now have the chance to decide if they, too, stand with victims and their families when they cast their ballots in November. We as survivors came before this body many times to share our stories, and I want to thank them for listening,” said Senator Lauren Book. 

“I want to thank my fellow commissioners for voting in favor of this proposal,” said Commissioner Cerio. “For too long, victims in Florida have been made vulnerable by weak constitutional language that does not ensure their rights. With Marsy’s Law on the ballot this fall, the voters will have the chance to give victims the constitutional rights they deserve.”

“I am thankful for the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and their support for crime victims and our families,” said Michael Liles, executive director of the Justice Coalition. “My wife was brutally murdered in our home last year. This was a blow not just to our family but to our entire community. Currently, her killer has more rights in the criminal justice system than myself or even my children. I’m grateful to Commissioner Cerio and all the members of the CRC who worked tirelessly to make sure surviving victims have a voice. We have paid the dearest price for the impact of crime. It is only fair and reasonable that we receive equal consideration.”

“Lawmakers, public officials, sheriffs, victims’ advocates and community leaders have all come together to stand with crime victims and their families, and as the mother of a murdered child, I am deeply grateful for their support as well as the support of the Constitution Revision Commission,” said Pat Tuthill, founder of the Peyton Tuthill Foundation. “Providing clear, enforceable rights in the state constitution will mean a world of a difference to crime victims and will help them heal after a tremendous loss. I encourage all Floridians to vote yes on Amendment 6.”

Marsy’s Law Rights
Marsy’s Law will guarantee that victims receive certain rights in a number of important ways including:

●      informing victims and their families about their rights and the services available to them,

●      giving them the right to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in a criminal case,

●      protecting their safety by notifying them in a timely manner regarding changes to the offender’s custodial status,

●      allowing victims and their families to exercise their right to be present – and heard – at court proceedings,

●      providing input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized; and

●      establishing the right to restitution from the convicted.

About Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.  He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.

For more information on the Marsy’s Law initiative, please visit https://marsyslaw.us, and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

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FLORIDA SHERIFFS ENDORSE MARSY’S LAW FOR FLORIDA DURING NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS WEEK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 11, 2018

CONTACT:

Jennifer Fennell, CoreMessage

(850) 597-0057, jennifer@coremessage.com

 

Florida Sheriffs Endorse Marsy’s Law for Florida During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week 

TALLAHASSEE – Sheriffs from 24 counties joined the growing list of law enforcement leaders endorsing Marsy’s Law for Florida/Constitution Revision Commission Proposal 96, which would place equal rights and protections for victims in the state constitution. Endorsing Marsy’s Law for Florida today:

  • Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell
  • Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell
  • Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk
  • DeSoto County Sheriff James Potter
  • Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly
  • Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith
  • Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden
  • Lafayette County Sheriff Brian Lamb
  • Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil
  • Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum
  • Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White
  • Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells
  • Martin County Sheriff William Snyder
  • Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay
  • Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings
  • Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco
  • Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson
  • Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight
  • Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma
  • St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara
  • Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood
  • Wakulla County Sheriff Jared Miller
  • Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr.
  • Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews

Marsy’s Law for Florida was previously endorsed by the Florida Police Chiefs Association and Florida Sheriffs Association.

In a letter to Marsy’s Law for Florida/Proposal 96 sponsor Constitution Revision Commissioner Tim Cerio, Walton County Sheriff and Florida Sheriffs Association President Mike Adkinson said, “Florida has always been a state with strong safeguards in place for crime victims. Previous state legislatures made certain that crime victims were both protected and properly compensated. Proposal 96 will further strengthen these efforts by guaranteeing crime victims have a meaningful role in the criminal justice system. Victims of crime must be treated with fairness and Proposal 96 respects victims by providing them with access to information on every step of the judicial process.”

The measure has also received the support of Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush, State Attorney Andrew Warren (13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County) State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle (11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County) State Attorney R.J. Larizza (7th Judicial Circuit, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties), State Attorney Brad King (5th Judicial Circuit, Marion, Lake, Citrus, Sumter, Hernando Counties), State Attorney Dave Aronberg (15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County), former State Attorneys Rod Smith of Gainesville and Willie Meggs of Tallahassee, and State Senator Lauren Book.

The sheriffs’ endorsements come in the midst of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 8 – 14, a time to promote victims’ rights and honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.

The full Constitution Revision Commission has already voted favorably on Marsy’s Law for Florida and will vote again one final time to determine if the measure should be placed on the November ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment. To be placed in the Florida Constitution, the amendment must pass with at least 60 percent of the vote.

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About Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.

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FLORIDA SMART JUSTICE ALLIANCE ENDORSES MARSY’S LAW FOR FLORIDA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2018
 
CONTACT:
Jennifer Fennell, CoreMessage
(850) 597-0057, jennifer@coremessage.com
 
Florida Smart Justice Alliance Endorses Marsy’s Law for Florida
 
Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Smart Justice Alliance today endorsed Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Proposal 96, commonly known as Marsy’s Law, which would establish a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in the Florida Constitution.
“Marsy’s Law provides common sense protections for crime victims, ensuring they have the right to be heard, the right to be present, and the right to be informed,” said Barney Bishop, CEO of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance. “Many times, victims fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system and, with Marsy’s Law, we have an easy way to remedy that. All that victims are asking is to be treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to those accused of the crimes that have harmed them. By placing Marsy’s Law on the 2018 ballot, voters will have the opportunity to decide if victims should be granted those rights.”
Six other states have enacted Marsy’s Law, including California, Illinois, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Montana. Polling conducted in October showed there is strong interest among Florida voters to enact Marsy’s Law in the Sunshine State. Eighty-seven percent of likely Florida voters believe victims should have, at the very least, the same protections in the state constitution as those given to those accused of committing crimes. When read specific ballot language and informed of the background behind Marsy’s Law, 85 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for a constitutional amendment that guarantees victims’ rights in the Florida Constitution.
Proposal 96 recently passed the full body of the CRC by a vote of 30-3. Pending one final vote, Marsy’s Law for Florida will be placed on the 2018 General Election ballot as a constitutional amendment. The proposal must be approved by 60 percent of voters to be placed in the Florida Constitution.
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About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.

Rachel Sines: Crime victims deserve respect, protections

When I came home 11 years ago to find a man inside my house, I thought I was going to die. He sexually assaulted me at gunpoint before leaving with my car, my purse and my dignity. I am lucky to be alive, but my life as I knew it would never be the same...

Click here to read the rest of Rachel's column in Orlando Rising.

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MARSY’S LAW FOR FLORIDA LIGHTS THE FLORIDA OLD CAPITOL PURPLE IN RECOGNITION OF NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS WEEK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 9, 2018

CONTACT:

Jennifer Fennell, CoreMessage

(850) 597-0057, jennifer@coremessage.com

 

Marsy’s Law for Florida Lights the Florida Old Capitol Purple in Recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s iconic old capitol building will be set aglow in purple lighting every night this week by Marsy’s Law for Florida in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), April 8 through 14. The purple lights are a reminder that victims should be entitled to equal rights and protections under the law.

Floridians who have been victimized by a crime do not have rights that are equal to those already afforded the accused and convicted. Marsy’s Law for Florida has been advocating for change by placing a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in the Florida Constitution through a proposed constitutional amendment. Proposal 96, currently under consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), would enumerate clear, enforceable rights and protections for victims in our state’s most powerful legal document.    

“We’re shining a bright light on this issue because far too often victims are forgotten. Through no fault of their own, victims and their families are thrust into the criminal justice system. Once there, victims are often left without a voice, made to feel invisible, or worse, retraumatized by the process itself,” said Commissioner Tim Cerio, CRC member and sponsor of Proposal 96. “We’re lighting the old capitol purple this week to send a message: Florida victims should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.” 

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week raises awareness of victims’ rights for one week during April. This year, NCVRW’s theme is “Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims” – emphasizing the importance of ensuring all crime victims, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation, have access to services and support. By celebrating NCVRW, Marsy’s Law for Florida hopes to educate Floridians about the gap that currently exists in our justice system, which ultimately leaves crime victims feeling voiceless and alone.

If passed by the CRC, and ultimately voters, Marsy’s Law for Florida would provide victims with basic, commonsense rights and protections, such as:

  • The right to be present at any court proceedings related to their case.
  • The right to speak at their perpetrator’s plea hearing or sentencing, especially if the outcome may result in the offender’s release.
  • The right to know if the person who victimized them is about to being released from prison. 

Marsy’s Law for Florida has garnered broad, bipartisan support from leaders across the state, including Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush, State Attorney Andrew Warren (13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County) State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle (11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County) State Attorney R.J. Larizza (7th Judicial Circuit, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties) State Attorney Dave Aronberg (15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County), State Senator Lauren Book, Florida Police Chiefs Association and Florida Sheriffs Association.

The measure is co-sponsored by CRC members: Patricia Levesque, Darlene Jordan, Fred Karlinsky, State Representative Jeanette Nuñez, Brecht Heuchan, Belinda Keiser, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and State Senator Darryl Rouson.

Last month, the full CRC voted in favor of Marsy’s Law for Florida. The measure will go before the full CRC again for a second vote and must receive a minimum of 22 votes in order to be placed on the 2018 General Election ballot. The proposal must be approved by 60 percent of voters to be placed in the Florida Constitution. 

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About Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.  In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.