Victims' Rights Amendment Introduced
House Joint Resolution 45, proposing a Victims' Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, has been introduced by Congressman Trent Franks, chair of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives. The Subcommittee held a hearing on Friday, May 1, 2015 on the proposed constitutional amendment.
Witnesses included were:
- Professor Paul Cassell, one of America’s leading scholars on the rights of crime victims.
- Collene Campbell, former Mayor of San Juan Capistrano, whose son Scott was brutally murdered, and then in an unrelated crime, whose brother and sister in law, racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudy, were murdered by hitmen hired by a former business partner of Mickey’s.
- Steve Kelly, Maryland lawyer and crime victim advocate, whose sister was kidnapped, raped, and murdered, and who has devoted his life and legal career to be a strong voice for the rights of crime victims.
- Letters of Support
Detailed information on the hearing (including a link to view a video of the hearing), letters of support and further developments is available on the Legislative Info page.
Hawaii defers action on VRA
Crime victims in Hawaii are again fighting for their rights to be recognized in their state's constitution. A hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment was held on March 3 before the state's Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.
The Senate Committee on March 4 deferred action on the bill. According to news reports, the committee expects a new version of the proposal to be introduced in the next legislative session.
- Victims of crime want rights spelled out in Hawaii constitution, Daily Journal, Mar. 3, 2015
- Victims of crime want rights stated in Hawaii constitution, Hawaii News Now, Marc. 3, 2015
- Crime victims’ right-to-know bill under consideration by Hawaii lawmakers, KHON2, Mar. 3, 2015
- Hawaii Crime Victims' Bill of Rights Deferred Another Year,Honolulu Civil Beat, Mar. 4, 2015
Illinois strengths its Victims' Rights Amendment
The Illinois Crime Victims' Bill of Rights Amendment was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Illinois as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was overwhelmingly approved. The measure was designed to strengthen the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, which was originally adopted in November , 1992.. Specifically, the amendment was meant to guarantee the following:
- A victim’s right to be free from harassment, intimidation and abuse throughout the criminal trial process.
- A victim’s right to notice and to a hearing before a court ruling on access to any of the victim’s records, information or communications.
- A victim’s right to be heard at any post-arraignment court proceeding in which a victim’s right is at issue and at any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea or sentencing.
- A consideration of the safety of the victim and their family in determining bail and conditions of release after arrest and conviction of the defendant.
- That the accused does not have standing to assert the rights of a victim.
In order to be ratified, this measure had to be approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question or by a majority of people voting in the election, whichever is less.
"To those who hesitate and shy away from amending our constitution to protect victims, I would say with all due respect, it is a good thing that they were not in the first Congress that provided us with the Bill of Rights; it is good they were not in the 38th Congress that ended slavery, or in the 39th Congress, that asserted rights to equal protection and due process; it is good they were not in the 66th Congress, that extended the right to vote to women; and it's good they were not in the 87th Congress that ended the poll tax. You see, throughout the long course of our history, great injustices in America have ended with constitutional justice."
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery,
Sign NVCAP Petition!NVCAP has started an online petition for everyone to register their support for a Federal Victims' Rights Amendment. Tell your friends, family and other victim advocates to sign on for Victims' Rights.
Read Kim Goldman's Blog
"Wanna Make History?"
Read the article on Gordon and Elaine Rondeau's support for a federal Vicitms' Rights Amendment.
NVCAP invites its partners from our earlier campaigns, the large community of victims' advocates, and every citizen to join us once again as we move forward together in the cause of victim justice. How fitting it would be, during this 30th anniversary of the President's Task Force, to finally heed its call for justice.
Phoenix School of Law's Phoenix Law Review's April 9, 2012 "Special Edition: A Proposed Crime Victims' Amendment to the Constitution" will feature a series of articles examining the proposed Victims' Rights Amendment. View the articles here.
For more information or questions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.