As the Charlotte County Sheriff, I have spent countless hours following an arrest explaining the constitutional rights afforded to someone accused of a crime. I wish I could say I have spent a similar amount of time talking with crime victims about their own rights, but unfortunately victims lack any clear, enforceable constitutional protections. Imagine telling a mother the law considers the rights of her son’s murderer more important than her own, or that a rapist has stronger legal protections than the person he or she sexually assaulted. Thankfully, this could soon change.
In November, Floridians will have the chance to provide crime victims with constitutional rights through Amendment 6, also known as Marsy’s Law. Amendment 6 guarantees victims have rights equal to those accused of a crime, such as the right to information, the right to be heard and the right to be treated with fairness.
The criminal justice system is set up to balance the interests of the state with the person accused or convicted of a crime. But, an important component is missing: the victim. As a law enforcement officer, I firmly believe those accused of a crime are entitled to their Sixth Amendment protections – but I also believe we can uphold those rights while providing victims with constitutional protections, too.
Marsy’s Law will bring much-needed equality to the criminal justice system. I will be voting for Amendment 6, and I encourage you to do the same.
Sheriff Bill Prummell