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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Why Montana needs Marcy's Law

Dear editor,

The current victim rights statute is not sufficient.  This year, my child was victimized in an unprovoked assault by multiple assailants. Our family missed several hearings due to the lack of enforcement of the statute. The first missed hearing was featured in a news article and upon reading it, I felt ill. Were we in danger? Montana Code 46-24-106, subsection 2, specifically states, “a victim of a criminal offense has the right to be present during any trial or hearing conducted by a court.” Present? We did not even know about it! NINE sections (20-28 of Article II) of the constitution protect offenders. Thus, offenders are ALWAYS notified.

Opponents claim that victims are not notified because they fail to maintain accurate contact information. Conversely, I contacted the county attorney’s office, confirmed our information, and stated that I my employer arranged for my presence at the courthouse with just thirty minutes notice. We missed subsequent hearings. I repeated the process, then spent days contacting local and national representatives. I collaborated with media and spoke at the crime victim’s forum.

I realize the inconsistencies are not intentional. I support our justice system, grateful for those who answer the call to serve. Raised in a law enforcement family, I learned that citizens have two choices: idly contribute to problems by doing nothing, or act. I refuse to be a part of this problem.

Our constitution is a living document for a reason: to better serve citizens.

The current state of the Constitution leaves victimized citizens unprotected, summoning the need for change.

I plead with my fellow Montanans to investigate CI-116, and cast a “YES” vote.  I look forward to the day when my family can rest assured that we WILL receive notification, on EVERY hearing.

 

Sincerely,

Kristen Dawes

Laurel

 

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