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RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS: Overview of SQ 794

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YUKON, Okla. -- A new cycle of state questions are on the ballot with the coming of 2018.

While many public and private citizens focus on State Question 788 which decides the legality of medicinal marijuana, there is more at stake. The next state question on the ballot is State Question 794: The Crime Victim Rights Amendment.

The Crime Victim Rights Amendment is an amendment to an Oklahoma Constitutional amendment done in 1996.

According to ballotpedia.org, “this measure amends the provision of the Oklahoma Constitution that guarantees certain rights for crime victims,” it reads. “These rights would now be protected in a manner equal to the defendant’s rights.”

This style of amendment has been passed in five states including California and Illinois. It allows for the victims involved in a crime more freedom to choose how they conduct themselves and their involvement within the court proceedings.

Within the amendment the following rights will be given to the victims affected by a crime: allowing for the victims to be heard during a court proceeding, adding the right to reasonable protection, adding the right to be at a proceeding without delay, adding the right to talk with a prosecutor, and allows the victims to refuse interview requests from the defendant.

These victim’s rights are collectively known as Marsy’s Law.

Marsy’s Law for All is a national organization made by Henry Nicholas, the co-founder of Broadcom Corp. He started the organization after his sister was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. According to prison records, Henry and his mother were confronted by the ex-boyfriend after his release from prison.

The victims were unaware of his release from prison on bail.

Nicholas began his campaigning for the amendment in California and won with 58.9 percent of the vote. As states like Illinois, Montana and North and South Dakota pass the amendment, surrounding states much look at their population in accordance with the incarceration rates.

In early 2017, it was polled by the PEW Research Institute that Oklahoma had the second highest incarceration rate in the United States. With 700 people out of 100,000 incarcerated, the only state which beat Oklahoma in incarceration was Louisiana. Their statistics showed that out of 100,000 people, 816 people were in the prison system.

If the amendment passes, the vote will support the measure to add these specific rights of crime victims to the Oklahoma Constitution. It will be filed under the topic of law enforcement and will originate from the State Legislature.

If the amendment is denied, the rights of the victims involved in a crime will remain intact. This includes not having the right to deny an interview or not having the right to speak to the prosecutors during a proceeding.

On the action that amendment is denied, a similar amendment can be proposed in November of 2020.

SQ 794 has begun to gain traction at the Oklahoma Capitol. Lawmakers on either side of the political spectrum have shown favor for the new possible amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution.

Rep. Scott Biggs (R-Chickasha) is one of the lead supporters of the amendment. Biggs sees the measure as a step forward in law enforcement and an effort to strengthen victim’s rights.

Although Biggs resigned the House of Representatives in November of 2017, he is still one of the main advocates for Marsy’s Law.

“What we’re asking is to elevate the victims' rights to the same level as the defendants’ rights,” Biggs said. “Not more, not less, but simply put the victims’; rights at the same level as the defendants’ rights.”

Oklahoma lawmakers are viewing this measure as hopeful for the future of Oklahoma.

Oklahomans are able to vote on SQ 794 on November 6, 2018.

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Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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