The start of the 2018 legislative session is still months away, but state lawmakers are already prepping bills for next year. Monday morning at the capitol, legislators and officials gave a presentation about a measure that would strengthen the rights of crime victims in Idaho.
One of the lead sponsors for the victims' rights legislation this past session was Todd Lakey. The Republican Senator from Nampa led a group of lawmakers, law enforcement and a crime victim in advocating for Marsy’s Law.
The law’s name comes from a California woman who was killed by an ex-boyfriend. A week after the crime, the victim’s family was confronted by the accused killer at a grocery store. They were never informed he was out on bail.
Along with timely notice of an attacker’s escape or disappearance from parole and provisions to shield victims from the accused and those acting on their behalf, another provision jumps out to Lakey.
“It also provides that victims may be able to speak for themselves, which they already have the right to do, or have a family member or representative or even their attorney speak on their behalf,” he says.
To put a face on the proposed legislation, teenager Lauren Busdon shared her experience with the audience.
“Nearly five years ago, at only 14, I was raped by an 18-year-old,” she says. Busdon describes her attacker as, “a man who had raped before and inevitably went on to rape again.”
While pausing several times to hold back tears and collect herself, Busdon says she was made to wait in a jailhouse cafeteria during her rapist’s parole hearings so she wouldn’t have to share space with his family.
“Being a victim of sexual assault and rape is the worst thing I have ever experienced. Having no contact orders violated with no repercussions, being paraded in front of my rapist’s family and being forced to sit in cafeterias only made it worse,” she says. “It re-victimizes the person all over again.”
While the legislation enjoys broad support from organizations, politicians and sheriffs, one notable holdout is the ACLU. The group is uncomfortable with the legislation’s definition of crime victims, fearing it could be expanded to include large corporations. They’re also concerned defendants’ rights could be blunted.
Marsy’s Law passed unanimously in the Senate last legislative session but died in committee in the House.
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