Goal to give victims of crime equal rights
By Chinta Strausberg
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and his son, Jonathan, Saturday, April 20 received “The Victim’s Rights Champion” award from Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, director of the Marsy’s Law for Illinois because of their strong and consistent support in getting this bill passed in Illinois and in other states.
Speaking on the live weekly Rainbow PUSH Coalition broadcast, Bishop-Jenkins, along with Erinn Mahathey, national Outreach director, presented the awards on the heels of Victim’s Rights Week.
Afterwards in a private meeting, Bishop-Jenkins praised Jonathan Jackson for going to Springfield and testifying on behalf of the bill that gave crime victims the same level of protections as the accused. She thanked Rev. Jackson for his public support of the law by his sending out press releases and tweets.
Bishop-Jenkins explained that Marsy’s Law seeks to amend state constitutions that don’t offer protections to crime victims. Her goal is to have this law as part of the U.S. Constitution; that is to give victims of crime equal rights that are already afforded to the accused and the convicted.
Bishop-Jenkins talked about the origin and background of Marsy’s Law. It was named after 23-year-old Marsalee Ann Nicholas (Marsy), a senior at UC Santa Barbara who in 1983 was stalked by her ex-boyfriend, Kerry Conley and who later killed her.
Although he was arrested immediately, the same week of the Nicholas funeral, Bishop-Jenkins said the victim’s family ran into him in a grocery store. He had bonded out.
“There was no notice to the victim’s family.” Nicholas’ mother was so terrified and shocked that she had a heart attack but survived,” said Bishop-Jenkins.
When the family called the police and asked how was it possible for Conley to be released without notifying their family, they learned there was no legal obligation to give out that information to the victim’s family.
“That is when the Nicholas family said they were going to change that and began the Marsy’s Law effort,” Bishop-Jenkins explained.
Marsy’s Law passed in California in 2008.
While all of the protections for the accused remain in the U.S. Constitution, Bishop-Jenkins said, “What crime victims need is notice of what is going on in the case, the right to be heard in the sentencing once they are determined to be guilty, protections to be kept safe during the proceedings and the right to get restitutions for the harms done to their families because of the crime.”
Under this law, when an offender is to be released or will be allowed out on bail, the victim has a right to know about it and to be heard. Marsy’s Law has been passed in 11 states and is on the ballots of several more states.
Nicholas’ older brother, Dr. Henry Nicholas, who is the co-founder and former co-chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Broadcom Corporation, has reportedly “committed his personal family fortune to this effort,” Bishop-Jenkins said. Dr. Nicholas was ranked number 703 on the Forbes Billionaire list.