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Marsy's Law pushing more rights for victims of violent crimes

Courtesy of Marsy's Law{p}{/p}
Courtesy of Marsy's Law

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ATLANTA, Ga. (WGXA)-- National victim's advocacy group Marsy's Law is looking to make more changes in Georgia.

Marsy's Law first made waves in Georgia after changing the state constitution in 2018. During the 2022 Legislative Session, the group has returned to the Capitol to continue pushing for the rights of victims.

It’s the second push from the victim advocacy group, Marsy’s Law. They changed the state constitution in 2018 and are back to do it again.

The "Criminal Record Responsibility Act," known as CRRA, would require court systems across the state to collectively share records with each other.

“The theory behind that is, we get more correct and consistent information. Let’s say I was arrested for a crime and there’s potentially a bond, the judge should have all of my criminal information and the victim should be informed," said Marcy's Law Board Member, Meg Heap.

Heap says that slip-ups in reporting can leave a person’s criminal record incomplete. That means that the next time they’re charged with a crime, the judge may not know what else they’ve been found guilty of, and could possibly give them a sentence they don’t deserve.

Marsy’s Law is looking to change that. This time, with support from Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan.

Marcy's Law is named after Marsalee Nichols, who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. One week after her death and just minutes after her funeral, Marsy’s family was confronted by the killer, who was released on bond.

At the time, law enforcement was not required to notify victims if their attacker was let go.

Since then, the Nichols family has fought to expand the rights of victims and their families.

“Let’s say you’re a victim of a sexual assault or a burglary, or your child’s been murdered. You have the right to know what’s going on. Because we’ve codified the rights of someone who’s charged, but as a victim, you have the same rights," said Heap.

In 2018, Georgia voted in favor of Marsy’s Law, changing the state constitution and giving victims the rights her family didn’t have. Because of this, victims of violent crimes are entitled to participate in the court proceedings and to be notified if the attacker is no longer in jail.

This year, the activists behind Marsy’s Law are back under the gold dome, pushing for more.

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There’s no word on when CRRA will be presented to the general assembly, but Lt. Gov Duncan has publicly said he’s behind it. Governor Brian Kemp has also supported Marsy’s Law in the past.

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