Kentucky Senate Approves Crime Victims' Bill of Rights Amendment

Jan 10, 2018

Committee Testimony Wednesday on Marcy's Law Bill
Credit Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation calling for a Constitutional amendment concerning victims’ rights. Kentucky’s version of Marcy’s Law passed the senate in 2016, but failed to make it to the House floor.

Legislation seeking a voter referendum creating a crime victims’ bill of rights as part of the state constitution passed the senate 34-1.  Bill Sponsor Whitney Westerfield says he’s backed other criminal justice reforms, many which affected defendants.  “But now it’s time to stand up for the crime victims in Kentucky.  It’s long overdue to stand up for the crime victims in Kentucky,” said Westerfield.

Less than two hours before full senate consideration, the measure won committee approval.  Speaking in opposition to the amendment was Heather Gatnarek of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Victims with resources will be able to hire private attorneys while those without resources will not,” noted Gatnarek.

In addition to giving crime victims legal standing to assert rights, the bill also includes provisions for notice of court proceedings and protections for victims.  If it wins 3/5ths approval in each chamber, the question would go before voters this November.