Point Counterpoint: Marsy’s Law strengthens Wisconsin and its communities

Protecting victims and their rights is an effort both parties should get behind

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The state of Wisconsin has a proud history of advocating for victims’ rights and protecting our most vulnerable citizens. Wisconsin was the first state to pass a victims’ Bill of Rights and was an early adopter of a constitutional amendment in 1993. Today, Wisconsin needs Marsy’s Law to provide a necessary update to Wisconsin’s Constitution that ensures crime victims are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend. Just one week after Marsy’s murder, her family members were confronted by Marsy’s killer in a grocery store and had no idea he had been released on bail. Years later, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin seeks to ensure that events such as these will never happen to victims or their families again.

Marsy’s Law would strengthen existing rights for crime victims and create new ones to ensure that they have a say as their cases are litigated and that they are updated throughout the process. Marsy’s Law would give victims of crimes rights equal to those of the accused and convicted, and would not take away any rights of the accused, as it absolutely shouldn’t.

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At its core, Marsy’s Law ensures that victims have a right to their voice being heard in the criminal justice process, the right to notification, and the right to information about their cases. Mary’s Law also requires that victims are notified of their rights as they navigate the criminal justice system, just as defendants are.

In Wisconsin, many have come forward to share their stories of how the criminal justice system has failed them, even when they were children. It’s no surprise that victims’ advocates, district attorneys, law enforcement officials and legislators on both sides of the aisle support Marsy’s Law to ensure that the system is fair to victims.

In addition to protecting the rights of victims, the protections of Marsy’s Law ensures safer communities. By putting protections in place to back individuals as they navigate the criminal justice system, victims who would not have otherwise come forward are empowered to do so.

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While the goal of every community should be to reduce crime overall, creating an environment where the criminal justice system supports victims and their families can aid in making sure that more of these crimes are reported so criminals don’t remain on the streets.

In Wisconsin, Marsy’s Law will need to be voted on one more time by the legislature (it was already passed once with widespread bipartisan support) and passed in a statewide referendum because it is an amendment to the state constitution. Moving forward, Marsy’s Law will continue to need voters to contact their legislators, people to share their stories, citizens to advocate in their communities and your eventual vote if it ends up on the ballot.  

The College Republicans of UW-Madison are proud to support Marsy’s Law because standing up for victims and the rule of law allows the criminal justice system to serve our communities fully. Supporting people as they seek justice for crimes that they’ve fallen victim to is the right and just thing to do.

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I’m proud that members of both of both political parties are coming together to support legislation such as Marsy’s Law, especially in an age of deep partisan division. On its first vote in the Assembly, Marsy’s Law passed with a vote of 81-10 and in the Senate on a vote of 29-4. Wisconsin’s top law enforcement official, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul supports Marsy’s Law along with his Republican predecessor, Brad Schimel.

Supporting Marsy’s Law transcends political ideology because supporting victims and a fairer criminal justice system is something both political parties can get behind. It’s time for Wisconsin to adopt Marsy’s Law — crime victims shouldn’t have to wait any longer to be protected.

Alesha Guenther ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in political science and journalism. She is also the communications director of the College Republicans of UW-Madison.


This article was published Feb 5, 2019 at 8:25 am and last updated Feb 4, 2019 at 12:09 pm


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