Guest Opinion

Throughout my professional career and as a state legislator, I’ve purposefully worked and advocated for positive change on behalf of all parties involved in the justice system in Idaho. Whether it’s serving on the Public Defense Reform and Justice Reinvestment committees or supporting the work of numerous non-profits, including the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, it is abundantly clear that we can and must do more in support of victims of crime.

Victims deserve safety, respect, support and empowerment as they navigate the justice system. It is critical that they are not revictimized by the system from which they seek justice. There are far too many Idahoans who have been victims of crime: assault, unfathomable violence, abuse or worse. The resulting trauma and suffering can last a lifetime, or worse, result in suicide.

On any given day in Idaho, hundreds of victims of domestic violence and their children seek assistance from domestic violence organizations. In 2017, more than 16,000 Idahoans were victims of assault and another 1,600 reported being sexually assaulted. In 2016, the Idaho State Police reported 6,084 incidents of violence between spouses, ex-spouses, and those in dating relationships.

While it’s virtually impossible to prevent all crime and violent acts, we can better address the aftermath and support the healing process for victims of those crimes. Idaho took an important first step in 1994 when voters overwhelmingly supported the Victims’ Rights Amendment, making Idaho a champion at that time in a burgeoning national movement to help victims.

For those reasons and more, I remain a strong supporter of Marsy’s Law for Idaho and will diligently work on getting the legislation passed in this legislative session.

The bill addresses areas of concern that have surfaced in other states and provides more effective mechanisms for upholding victims’ rights and affording them a voice. Marsy’s Law seeks to improve the experience of victims, putting their rights on equal footing with the rights of the accused and convicted. Key components include notification of offender release, reasonable protection, and equity.

Marsy’s Law is right for Idaho.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb represents Boise’s District 19.

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