Issues: Constitutional Amendments
Across the country, concerned citizens have
been working to amend state constitutions to provide rights
for victims of crime. While every state provides some
legal rights for crime victims as part of their state code,
those that have amended their constitutions have sought
to ensure three things:
- crime victims' rights are protected in the same way
that defendants' rights are protected;
- crime victims' rights are a permanent part of the
criminal justice system; and
- courts would have the power to enforce crime victims'
rights if they are violated.
To date, 32 states have amended their constitutions to include
rights of crime victims. Check your state (use state-by-state menu above
right) to read the text of any victims' rights amendment. We have also
prepared a comparison of the state amendments.
Many crime victim advocates are also seeking
to amend the United States Constitution. In addition
to having the same benefits as state crime victims' rights
consitutional amendments, a federal amendment would provide
uniformity to victims' rights: a person victimized by crime
anywhere in the United States would be entitled to a standard
set of rights to be informed, present, and heard during
the criminal justice process.
A Federal crime victims' rights amendment is currently being considered. H. J. RES. 106 would guarantee victims the following rights: to be notified of and not excluded from public proceedings relating to the offense; to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, or sentencing; to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; to be notified of the release or escape of the accused; to due consideration of the victims safety; and to restitution. It would also give crime victims standing to assert and enforce their rights.