As of Tuesday, August 21, 2018
The summer of 2018 has been a difficult one for those committed to working with crime victims. For victim advocates, law enforcement and organizations like Marsy’s Law for Idaho, a series of violent, headline-grabbing crimes has once again put the challenges facing victims front and center.
Earlier this summer, a mass stabbing at a Boise apartment complex led to the death of a three-year-old and sent five other children and three adults to the hospital. Prosecutors have charged a 30-year-old transient with first-degree murder in the death of Ruya Kadir, who died days after the senseless attack. The accused also faces eight counts of aggravated battery and a use of deadly force enhancement.
A little more than a week later, a wave of domestic violence left another set of victims and tragedy in its wake. In one day, five Idahoans were killed in shootings investigators linked to domestic violence disputes.
Four of the five deaths were two couples who died in separate instances of murder-suicide, including a Magic Valley man already facing domestic violence charges who killed his girlfriend and then himself.
Public support for victims has been tremendous, especially in the Boise area where the community has rallied to support victims, donating food and clothing and raising money for housing, mental health services and other needs.
This outpouring of public support and compassion is hardly surprising. As a victim witness coordinator, we see reaction like this all the time in our own communities. Idahoans have a natural inclination and history of providing emotional, financial or even legal support for victims of crime.
I’m confident in saying this because all one needs to do is turn back the clock to 1994 when Idahoans voted overwhelmingly to amend our Constitution to provide victims with a new set of rights. At the time, those changes put Idaho at the forefront nationally for victims’ rights reform.
Yet there is so much more Idahoans can and should do to help crime victims.
During the last legislative session, a constitutional amendment sponsored by Marsy’s Law for Idaho fell a handful of votes short in the House, squelching important reforms and updates for victims’ rights.
For those of us who work daily with victims, this was extremely disappointing. Marsy’s Law has the support of victim advocates, Idaho sheriffs and police, firefighters and EMTs because we all see first-hand and understand the challenges victims face.
Marsy’s Law for Idaho would have provided victims with more protection in situations when an offender escapes or absconds from probation or parole. It would have given victims the right to confer with prosecutors about their case and elevated victims’ rights to the same level as those afforded defendants.
Nobody chooses to be a victim and go through the trauma, loss and confusion victims often experience. This is why it’s important for Idahoans to think about Marsy’s Law for Idaho and its goal of strengthening and improving the rights of crime victims.
Susan Nalley is a Blackfoot resident and current president of the Idaho Victim Witness Association. She is also the victim witness coordinator for the Bingham County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Blackfoot Police Department.