Tennessee should join with other states and support Marsy’s Law. Named for Marsy Nicholas, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend while still in college, Marsy’s Law has a simple goal — to provide common sense rights to crime victims and to strengthen existing protections in the Tennessee Constitution.

Shortly after Marsy Nicholas was murdered, her mother was unexpectedly confronted in the grocery store by her daughter’s killer. The Nicholas family did not even know he was out on bail – and they were rightly frustrated. Marsy’s family worked to pass a bill in their state to protect crime victims and their families.

Here in Tennessee, the amendment would expand the rights of crime victims, including the right to full and timely restitution and the victims’ right to know information about the release of their perpetrator. These are common-sense ideas that many believe should already be in place – and are too often surprised to learn that they aren’t.

Tennesseans have already shown their support for crime victims once. In 1998, we voted for and passed the Crime Victims Bill of Rights, essentially reassuring crime victims and their families of certain basic rights and protections as victims.

Unfortunately, the wording of this legislation and its implementation does not cover all victims and their family members, and their rights are not equally enforced. Marsy’s Law ensures that victims and their families know their rights – just as a perpetrator knows his or her rights.

Without the enforceable protections that Marsy’s Law provides, crime victims have weaker rights than those who perpetrated crimes against them. I cannot imagine the pain and confusion that the Nicholas family experienced – losing their daughter and then being confronted by her killer just weeks later. Families of victims deserve better.

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