March 8, 2018
The Coalition’s opposition was based in beliefs about the appropriateness of the usage of public funds towards something that has not been identified by a broad-spectrum of Idaho victims of crime as needed nor is a constitutional amendment an appropriate in this situation as it is a refinement of public policy with unknown consequences. The Coalition’s testimony in opposition was as follows:
This is a policy solution in search of a problem forwarded and financed by an individual from California. This well-funded campaign to amend Idaho’s Constitution to enhance the rights already delineated for victims of crime, was initiated by an organization and almost completely funded by a single individual, whose family experienced an unspeakable tragedy. While Marsy’s Law Idaho proponents will tell you that the proposed constitutional amendment is drafted based on Idaho’s individual needs, it closely reflects the model language developed by the well-funded group out of California which was originally enacted at time when that state did not afford rights to crime victims. While well intentioned, the proposed amendment entirely fails to take into consideration the actual needs of crime victims in the State of Idaho as identified in the 2016 Crime Victims in Idaho: Assessment of Needs and Services published by Boise State University. That assessment found that victims of crime in Idaho experience significant difficulties in accessing their existing constitutional rights. Specifically, the assessment states that “there were even more services that were indicated as needed but were not received, several of which are directly related to the rights afforded to crime victims in Idaho.” Unfortunately, while it proposes to do so, this joint resolution nothing to address those concerns – its right to petition the court was never excluded nor does it guarantee the provision of crime victims’ rights as there is no true consequence for a violation of those rights.
The victims’ need assessment included information gathered from agencies and victims of crime and included questions based on victims experiences and needs within the criminal justice system. The report included a list of 27 recommendations to enhance the provision of services to victims of crime within the state. Not one of those recommendations involved the implementation of an enhanced crime victims bill of rights. Recommendation 16, discusses the lack of remedy or consequences for the violation of victims’ rights and includes the following: “legal rights, whether afforded through statute or constitution, are only as good as the mechanism that exists to rectify violations of those rights. When no mechanism exists, rights become courtesies.” Again, while it proposes to do so, the House Joint Resolution does not solve this problem.
While Marsy’s law allows victims and others to petition the courts to seek enforcement of their rights, there would still be no true enforcement mechanism to rectify violations. The lack of a crime victims bill of rights is Idaho is not problematic, rather, it is the lack of ability to enforce existing rights that is a challenge for victims of crime in Idaho. Marsy’s law does not remove this identified barrier, nor does the proposal in any way address the multitude of other basic needs of victims of crime in Idaho. Rather, focusing on the actual identified needs of victims, and adequately funding services that meet those needs, is the responsible thing for the State to do.
Marsy’s Law has unknown consequences and is inappropriate for a constitutional amendment. The Constitution of the State of Idaho sets broad public policies and aspirations. Unlike statutory provisions and administrative rules, the constitution is intentionally difficult to amend, and therefore is not an appropriate venue for to set detailed refinements in public policy, such as those proposed by Marsy’s Law Idaho. As other opponents will tell you, Marsy’s Law as implemented in other states has resulted in unintended consequences include undue delay in criminal justice processes and increases the cost of court administration. A constitutional amendment essentially removes the authority of the legislature to correct any unintended consequences. The fact is, no one knows what the true effects of this amendment will be, but if there are unintended negative consequences, it will be very difficult to amend as a constitutional provision.
In conclusion, the Idaho Coalition opposes Marsy’s Law in its entirety as an irresponsible use of public funds that is not aimed at addressing any identified need of victims in the State of Idaho and it has unknown consequences making it inappropriate as a Constitutional amendment.
If you have questions about the Coalition’s stance on Marsy’s Law or other legislation, legal or policy issue, please do not hesitate to contact Annie Pelletier, by email at Annie@engagingvoices.org or by phone at (208) 389-8050.
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Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is just around the corner! Here’s the newest SAAM resource, the Media Outreach Packet. The packet is intended to help you drive media interest during SAAM to raise awareness and promote prevention. The packet includes news hooks, talking points, a sample press release, a sample e-blast, and much more. We hope you’ll find it useful in bolstering your individual unique efforts!
In addition to the Media Outreach Packet, the SAAM page is filled with resources like share graphics, a Social Media Toolkit, as well as print-friendly Embrace Your Voice, Everyday Consent, Healthy Communication with Kids, and Understanding Sexual Violence factsheets, coloring pages, poster, and infographic.
In these times of movement, spokespeople are sprouting from unlikely places. People are becoming activated organically, motivated based on injustices described in articles, viral videos and calls to action from social justice activists around the world. Individuals are becoming empowered to resist and speak their truths to power in spite of generic critiques; “Shut up and dribble” “Get off your knee and just play football” “Keep politics out of my Sunday NFL” “You’re too young to understand” “Fire those sons of bitches!” Each of us occupy multiple identities, beyond our outward appearances, ethnicity, geographic location, religion, age, citizenship status, or occupation, that contribute to a broader perspective contributing to the national dialogue of social justice.
Recently LeBron James was criticized by a main stream media representative for criticizing the President of the United States. Mr. James was critical of his statements made via Twitter and a perceived lack of action surrounding the recent mass shootings in the U.S. In the past, the professional athletes we revered for their natural talents to run and jump are now being heard from their platform to share thoughts and feelings, beyond their chosen athletic sport.
My responsibility, based on the numerous unearned privileges I am granted based on the body and country I was born into, is to share power to boost these organic activists. The social media tools I utilize, Twitter and Facebook, have been revamped; some “friends” have been unfollowed replaced with new ones. It is my responsibility to seek voices reflecting a reality I don’t live in, to broaden my scope of view to include the realities/voices of communities that aren’t white, middle-class, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied, etc. Choosing to be uncomfortable is my path.
Please connect with me regarding:
– Jeff Matsushita
email@example.com or 208-371-8242 (cell)
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Screening of Rape on the Night Shift with William Tamayo
March 13th | Doors Open at 6:30 | Film 7:00 – 9:00 PM | Linen Building
“Following up on the award-winning collaboration that produced Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño in 2013, FRONTLINE (PBS), Univision, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley, and KQED are teaming up to uncover the sexual abuse of immigrant women who clean the malls where you shop, the banks where you do business, and the offices where you work.”
Join us, and our partners at PODER of Idaho, for the screening of Rape on the Night Shift on Tuesday, March 13th at the Linen Building at 7 PM. There will be a discussion after the film led by William Tamayo, contributor to the film and Director of the San Francisco office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Doors open at 6:30 pm, the event will begin at 7:00 pm. RSVP to the Facebook event here.
ASL and Spanish Language Interpreters provided.