Friday was the third anniversary of Marsy’s Law taking effect in Ohio’s Constitution. Thanks to 83% of Ohio voters approval, crime victims have meaningful and enforceable constitutional rights. Voters are not split or unclear about victim’s rights!
However, Ohio lawyers remain divided on how to interpret Marsy’s Law. No matter which county or city victims live in, their rights should be crystal clear. Without descriptive legislation, the constitution can be read differently in Allen, Auglaize, or Mahoning Counties. Thanks to leadership from Speaker Bob Cupp last session, the groundwork for this type of legislation has been laid and we are eager to see it passed in 2021.
A sharp turn for better victim treatment, and new Ohio Supreme Court rulings, resulted after February 5, 2018, with victim safety considerations, court hearing participation, requirement of victim impact statements, and court enforcement of mandatory restitution. But the very full glass of victim’s rights is leaking every day for some victims because of all the wiggle room without implementing Ohio Revised Code law.
The need is real. First, during the past year domestic violence, child abuse, and homicides have spiked. Second, believe it or not, some judges and defense attorneys are still not clear that a victim’s constitutional right to “full and timely restitution” means victims get a full restitution order and get paid first. We need the law to spell it out, so victim rights notices and orders are consistent and clear across Ohio.
Executive director of Allen and Putnam County Crime Victim Services.