HJR 8 is a reintroduction of legislation from 2017 that intends to preserve and expand the victim's rights in Idaho. This resolution is model legislation from California and the national Marsy’s Law campaign that aims to supersede victim’s rights over a criminal defendant’s US Constitutional rights. While we agree that victims deserve swift prosecution and meaningful justice, we feel that this proposed constitutional amendment will have serious unintended consequences on our broader criminal justice system. Read bill text here.
Idaho victims of crime already have a very robust set of constitutional and statutory rights; including the right to be heard, attend proceedings, access information about their case, contribute information for sentencing of the defendant, consult with the prosecution, as well as many others. In reviewing the proposed constitutional amendment, it’s apparent that many of the provisions outlined in the bill will have a negative impact on our already overburdened criminal justice system, impacting the work of Idaho judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys while also jeopardizing the constitutional rights of criminal defendants.
The requirement that the state provide crime victims with their own “lawful representative” to enforce their rights creates a burden to fund crime victim attorneys in direct conflict with the state’s federal constitutional obligation to provide and fund those accused of crimes with a public defender.
The additional requirement that victims can be heard at parole and probation hearings could result in the unnecessary extension of prison sentences leading to increased costs for incarceration. What's more, the fiscal note for this proposed constitutional amendment remains unclear as to what cost the counties and state will face, likely resulting in an unfunded mandate that will jeopardize ongoing criminal justice funding priorities.
For more dertailed information about about our concerns with Marsy's Law, please read our 2017 fall/winter newsletter.