EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – This week is “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week”, and local victims’ advocates are speaking out about the impact of a year-old set of rights known as Marsy’s Law. First News at Nine’s Max Cotton explains the impact it’s having.
Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Miriam Falk says Marsy’s Law has helped change the perception of victims’ rights in the state.
“It’s not an afterthought anymore. It really is a central feature of our criminal justice response,” said Falk.
These rights, which voters enshrined into the state constitution in 2020, include restitution, privacy, and timely notice of court hearings or if the accused has escaped.
Jessica Bryan is The Eau Claire County Victim Witness Coordinator. She says her office is reaching victims more often since Marsy’s Law went into effect.
Bryan said, “In the past, a lot of it was done through letters and mail where now I feel we are picking up the phone more, communicating through email and in person. So I really feel it’s humanizing our process.”
She adds this improved communication is making it easier for victims as they deal with the criminal justice system.
“We’re able to answer a lot more questions in a timely fashion, in a quicker fashion for victims,” said Bryan.
Bryan says consistently calling victims has made it easier to keep them informed about court schedule changes, which happen often.
Most importantly, Falk says Marsy’s Law makes it easier for victims to be heard.
“People who feel heard are much more satisfied. And, you know, we don’t control everything, none of us do, but i think that what’s important as that you feel heard and that believed and that you feel appreciated and respected,” said Falk.
Falk adds, the goal of the law is to foster a culture of respect for victims. not let them feel stereotyped.
In Eau Claire, Max Cotton, First News at Nine.
An Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney on the call says since the law was implemented as we dealt with COVID-19 restrictions, communication with victims should improve even more as we return to a sense of normalcy.