Yesterday I wrote about a press conference taking place today which announced the formal opposition of prosecutors and some victims rights groups to Marsy’s Law, a ballot measure which would put certain “victims rights” into the state constitution.
Already the North Dakota State’s Attorneys’ Association opposes the measure, as does the North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Today the North Dakota Victim Assistance Association, the North Dakota Women’s Network, and CAWS North Dakota announced their opposition as well.
Their arguments seem convincing to me. It’s hard to imagine any of these groups being opposed to changes to state law which would legitimately help victims. The description of the history of victims rights legislation in our state in the statement from CAWS North Dakota, in particular, was eye-opening.
Yet in response to these reasoned arguments against Marsy’s Law the spokeswoman for that effort, Kathleen Wrigley, chose to call these groups “callous.” Here’s her statement sent out in a press release from Marsy’s Law for North Dakota:
Today a few prosecutors and victims’ advocates are showing their callous disregard for equal rights for crime victims in North Dakota. Instead these groups are endorsing the complacency of the status quo where crime victims in North Dakota are outright ignored by the criminal justice system making them to feel victimized all over again. These prosecutors and ‘victim advocates’ are telling voters today that offenders’ rights are more important than those they victimize. North Dakota crime victims deserve equal rights and that’s why more than more than 34,000 citizens have already come out in support of Marsy’s Law for North Dakota. I would ask all North Dakota voters, advocates and victims that support equal rights to join us in doing what’s right for crime victims in our state
Yikes. Provocative words. Hurtful words, I would think, for the people in these organizations who do genuinely care about the plight of victims but just happen to think that Marsy’s Law is poor public policy.
If the debate between Marsy’s Law becomes one pitting legal experts and well-established advocacy groups against mud slinging and angry denunciations from a deep-pocketed ballot measure campaign funded almost exclusively by a California billionaire, it’s going to be pretty easy to predict which side is going to win.
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