The Victims’ Rights Amendments proposes that victims should be given the power to hear appeals from the law courts and also have the right to revise the earlier judgments made by the courts. During the trial phase, it is believed that some rights are usually denied and which end up being overlooked even as the judges make their final decisions on the cases. Moreover, the proposals states that the fundamental rights of victims should be upheld at all times despite their age, mental health or any other general condition (Anon. Press Release by NVCAP, MADD, POMC and NOVA par.2). Moreover, the medium and mode of communication used by the government to explain and describe how human rights should be applied ought to be done away with. The proponents to these amendments argue that language use currently in place does not permit just and open application of victims’ rights. Another crucial substance in this proposal concerns the need of allowing victims to have advocates of their choice who can legally act on their behalf. Attorneys appointed from the statutory are perceived to be sympathizers to the government hence lack the public confidence and approval to represent them in law courts.
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Several sponsors to the Victims’ Rights Amendments have shown up and continue to lobby for support for it to be passed into law. For example, the National Victims’ Constitutional Amendment Passage (NVCAP) is an organization rallying behind the entrenchment of this proposed amendment in the constitution of United States of America. NVCAP states that the basic rights of victims should be respected. It adds that equity when executing judgments is paramount in the criminal justice system. Another lobby group to this proposed amendment is the partnership group of advocates from Illinois who are victims on their own. They are campaigning and drumming support for this clause to be included in the country’s constitution. Their main aspiration is to ensure that the rights of victims are safe guarded by the constitution and therefore easily enforceable (Anon. Press Release by NVCAP, MADD, POMC and NOVA. par.3). Another initiative group in favor of this amendment was in California its proposal went through. This Bill of Rights popularly referred to as “Marsy’s Law” passed through the voting stage with a fifty three votes against forty seven. The difference was quite small although the amendment was eventually adopted. An affiliate organization to National Victims’ Constitutional Amendment Passage (NAVCAP) known by the name National Victims Constitutional Amendment network has also been championing the rights of victims to be recognized by the law. The organization has developed a master plan to assist victims and others involved in the justice process to comprehend and practice the rights of victims. The plan is in form of a toolkit and was professional crafted with the assistance of the legal counsel.
This amendment if successfully adopted would also change the existing laws in a variety of ways. A case in point in the current system is whereby victims do not have exiting rights to be informed when the court proceedings will begin. They operate on a mere platform of guess work and sometimes waste their valuable time and other resources when hearings are postponed. If amendments to this clause are executed, the current law will give them the right to information. The execution of Justice within a limited time possible will also transform the existing laws. In the current context, victims are not given the due chance to be listened to especially when the justice process has reached a crucial step. Equally missing in the constitution is lack of victim protection even as justice is sought. A victim has no guarantee for restitution from the actual culprit (Anon. sec. 8.1). In addition, these broad recommendations will greatly change the face of legal process by ensuring that fundamental rights are maintained. There will be no denial of whatever nature if these proposals are wholly accepted. The current judicial system is perceived to be overcrowded and ineffective. There are no sufficient prisons and jails. To aggravate the matter, court hearings are adjourned and as a result proceedings are delayed. Worse still, some criminals do not serve their jail term fully. These existing flaws within the present constitution will be eliminated once amendments are adopted and fully implemented.
Also, thousands of condemned murderers usually seek to be set free from the state prisons. Families whose victims have been murdered are harassed by the authorities. A lot of money goes to waste. Usually, convicted prisoners are assigned advocates who take custody of their cases at the expense of tax payer. Moreover, they are normally given a hearing annually. All these inconveniences are uncalled for and can be avoided or completely eliminated with the proposed constitutional changes.
The National Crime Victim Law Institute is an organization that “actively promotes balance and fairness in the justice system…” (Anon. National Crime Victim Law Institute). It is one of the interest groups that have been championing the amendments in the United States of America constitution. Its main mission is to seek legal redress to crime victims, education, and equitable distribution of resources. This law institute was incepted way back in nineteen ninety seven by Professor Beloof Doug. It was initially meant to be a resource centre for lawyers dealing with crime victims. It made greater strides in nineteen ninety eight when it received additional support from United States of America Senator John Kyle among others. They presented a unanimous request to the Congress to provide the institute with financial aid. As a result, this organization has made big strides since then.
Another organization advocating for rights of crime victims is The National Centre for Victims of Crime (NCVC). The main duties of NCVC include offering essential services to victims, acting as viable reference centers, and educational support. Other subsidiary roles include tracking down legal matters in connection to crime victims, wife or husband raping, and general constitutional reforms. On the other hand, there are opposition groups to these proposed amendments. For instance, the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the National Organization for Women and the National Network to End Domestic Violence have been vehemently opposing this intended move. Also included in the opposition camp is the Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation. Outstanding law scholars, professors and government prosecutors have also laid fears over the possible impacts if such amendments will be effected (Semel par.1-2). The other groups who are opposing this intended move argue that the amendments will worsen the already bad situation. According to them, court cases will further be delayed. They add that there is misunderstanding on the requirements of these victims and their dependants (Semel par.3). Moreover, Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) observed that “victims are not served by sloppy, unconstitutional, or wrongful prosecutions” (Semel par.3). MVFR further inquires whether a woman who has been physically assaulted be demanded to cater for financial pay out to the batterer. These among several opposing views have been presented against entrenching this proposal to the United States of America constitution.
In my personal submission, it is imperative that any constitution be flexible enough to accommodate any future changes that may be deemed necessary. The U.S constitution has often been referred to as a “living constitution” because it can be amended from time to time. In addition to that, it is evident that some crime victims never get timely information regarding court hearings and they end up missing out on the important dates altogether.
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Besides, crime victims should be accorded the basic right to exchange communication with their prospective prosecutors. Unfortunately, this is not possible with the current constitution. Court proceedings and hearings are also not carried out expeditiously owing to congestion. If this proposal can be accepted as it is, then the long and sometimes slow judicial process can be done away with. The merits of this proposal are numerous. Victims are assured of expeditious trial process. Some cases take a very long time before they are concluded. This in turn may put the victim into unnecessary torture. If this amendment takes effect, then this bad history of back log in cases will be a thing of the past. The right to forward a formal note to court is also not guaranteed to the victims as per the current U.S constitution. It is paramount if they were given this right in spite of their status as criminals. The legal system should bear in mind that crime victims remain innocent until they are proved guilty. Therefore, they should be accorded similar rights as other citizens except that right on freedom of movement.
Anon. National Crime Victim law Institute Mission Statement. 2009. Web.
Anon. Press Release by NVCAP, MADD, POMC and NOVA. N.d. 2010. Web.
Anon. Section 8.1: Crime Victims’ Rights. N.d. 2010. Web.
Semel Elizabeth. Victims’ Rights Amendment Endangers Everyone’s Rights 1997. Web.