Respectfully submitted by Jack Reilley, Laguna Beach, for
FRIENDS OF MARSY’S LAW – VOTE YES ON PROP 9
Thank you for allowing me to submit reasons for a YES vote on Prop 9. I don’t represent all victims, but the experiences of my wife, Genelle, and I are similar to many, probably most, victims and survivors of violent crime whose case went through California’s criminal justice system. By violent crime I am talking of brutal murder, rape, pedophilia, criminal assault and other viciousness.
Friends of Marsy’s Law is an organization of citizen-victims bonded together individually to exercise our right to speech, petition and assembly. Friends of Marsy’s Law is not affiliated with any person, political party, other victim organization, any other Proposition on the ballot or any business. We do not solicit funds or dues. Our purpose is to educate the voters by putting Prop 9 in context by telling our stories and describing our experiences in the law enforcement system. We believe when voters understand the need for Prop 9 they will approve it by 65+% or more.
My wife, Genelle, and I are homicide survivors. Our only daughter, Robbin, was murdered at Saddleback Community College in 1986. Her murder is not solved. We have been insulted, lied to and frozen out of the investigation and prosecution of Robbin’s murder. We urge all voters to vote YES on Prop 9; give victims a voice and a right to participate in obtaining justice for the crime that altered and saddened the remainder of their lives.
THE DEMOCRAT PARTY OPPOSITION
Victims are surprised and saddened that the Democrat Party opposes Prop 9. I have met many victims and survivors since my daughter died, I have never met a victim who labeled themselves as a Democrat or a Republican victim.
Victims resent that Prop 9 is treated as a political issue. Violent crime is non-partisan, criminals do not ask for party registration.
Democrat Party leaders have a long history of fighting for victim rights. Genelle and I had the honor of Sen. Art Torres fighting with us for passage of the Security of Campus legislation in the late 80s. Sen. Torres never asked to which party we belonged. Other victims have had the same experience with Democratic legislators.
Democrats also have a long history of honorably fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, sexual preference rights, abortion rights, rights for the disabled, rights for children and much more. It is time to continue that tradition. Please, fight for victim rights, be a champion for victim rights.
Each year, all citizens of California have a high risk of becoming a victim or a survivor, parent, sibling, relative or friend of a victim. Please, don’t tell victims you voted to deny them rights to fairness and equal standing in our justice system because of politics.
Victims also request that you to talk to members of other groups aligned with the Democrat Party who oppose Prop 9. Many victims are life long Democrats and are also union members, teachers, government employees, minorities and members of other groups who support Democratic goals.
REASONS FOR MARSY’S LAW – PROP 9
Marsy’s Law will establish victims’ rights into the California constitution
- Victims and survivors of homicide are not represented in the criminal justice system. The prosecutors do not represent victims, they represent the state.
- Defendants and their lawyers consider victims fair game to malign, misinform, threaten and frighten. Any lie can be told about, and to, victims; any injustice toward victims is tolerated in the criminal justice system. We have no standing to fight back within the justice system.
- Defendants are given constitutionally guaranteed and legislated rights and privileges. Victims have no argument with this; Prop 9 is not attempting to deny defendant-prisoner rights or due processes in the prosecution phase. Our complaint is that we have no constitutional right to be involved in our own case.
Prop 9 - some general rights to victims and survivors:
- crime victims must be treated with respect and dignity by investigators, defense
attorneys, prosecutors, judges and parole personnel
- the rights of the criminals are not superior to the victim’s rights
- freedom from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the justice system, from any member of the defense, prosecution, judicial, parole and bureaucratic agencies.
- criminals will be extradited and brought before California courts even if arrested outside the state
- criminals are sufficiently punished and the punishment will not be undercut or diminished by granting rights and privileges not provided by the U.S. Constitution or California laws
- protection from the defendant, defense attorneys and others acting on the defendant’s behalf
- prevent disclosure of victim’s confidential information
- victims and survivors have the right to participate in, and be informed, throughout the investigation, bail, plea/plea bargain, trial, pre- and post trial sentencing decisions and parole processes.
Prop 9 - some key specific rights to victims and survivors:
- Bail: the safety of the victim must be considered when setting bail and release conditions
- Reasonable access to the prosecutors
- Input on decisions and hearings
- A speedy trial and speedy decisions involving post-conviction release
- Input on probation recommendations.
- Restitution: victims have the right to seek and secure restitution from the criminal. Put this in perspective: if you are killed or hurt by a drunk or careless driver, you or your survivors have the right to sue for damages. Likewise, a victim or survivor must have the right to seek restitution from the harm caused by murderers, rapists, pedophiles or violent assailants.
- Parole: stop the senseless torture of victims and survivors when multiple parole
hearings are given to violent criminals
- Victims must be informed on a timely basis of all parole procedures – dates, times, changes – and the release of the prisoner. Victims must have adequate time to prepare, make arrangements and travel to parole hearings.
- Victims or their representatives can provide information to parole authority
- Parole authority must consider the safety of the victim and his/her family
- Changes the parole system by changing the criminal’s right to multiple, frequent parole hearing. Expands the time period that parole hearings can be scheduled by the parole authority
- Relieves the trauma of uncertainty, misinformation and disregard of the victim and survivors. Relieves the turmoil and disruption in victim’s lives from capricious decisions and changes in parole dates and locations
- Enforcement: the victim or his/her representative or the prosecuting attorney may enforce Marsy’s Law as a matter of right. The court must act promptly on the request or complaint
RESPONSE TO OPPONENT BALLOT ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROP 9
- Prop 9 is bought and paid for by one man, Henry Nicholas III.
Dr. Nicholas funded the signature gathering drive, collecting approximately 1.5 million signatures to put Marsy’s Law on the ballot. Dr. Nicholas is the brother of Marsy Nicholas, the namesake of Marsy’s Law. She was a gifted 23 year old university student who planned a career teaching learning and physically disabled children. She was murdered in 1983. A couple of days after the murder, Marsy and Dr. Nicholas’ mother, Marcella Leach, saw the murderer at a grocery store. He had been promptly released on bail for murder. When Marcella complained to law enforcement and the D.A.s office, she was told that she had no standing in the bail decision, she was only a survivor. This was the genesis of Marsy’s Law, to provide victim rights in the criminal justice system. Dr. Nicholas is a murder survivor who over the years used his wealth in support of victim causes and charitable efforts.
In the long history of initiatives in California, many worthy issues have been, and will continue to be, backed by wealthy people in support honorable causes.
Dr. Nicholas’ support of a victim rights initiative is not unusual nor is it unacceptable.
- Prop 9 is misleading and exploits concern for crime victims. It preys on our emotions.
Victims are not simpletons. Victims advocate a YES vote for Prop 9 because we have suffered through the system! Yes, we are emotional; we are mad as can be about treatment as third class citizens without a say in the handling of the murders, rapes, child molestation and brutal assaults that affect, and ruin, our lives. We don’t want future victims to suffer through the same agony we have experienced.
You don’t have to been a direct victim to be affected by violent crime. If you are a spouse, sibling, relative, work or business associate or a friend of a victim, you to are affected by these horrible crimes to those dear to you.
Victims do not prey on the public emotion. We ask the voters to THINK about victims rights. As for emotion, we know that voters will leave the voting booth feeling pride that they voted for Prop 9, they did a civic good.
- Prop 9 is unnecessary. Prop 8 – the Victims Bill of Rights, passed in 1982 is on the books.
Prop 8 was a good law for its time. Back then, violent crime was rampant; prosecution and punishment were lenient under the prevailing laws. Prop 8 was a good start; unfortunately, enforcement was not good and when a victim complained, so what! Prop 8 was on the books when Marcella was told she had no standing; it was on the books when Genelle and I were cursed by the lead detective for asking about Robbin’s murder investigation. We had no recourse.
Sadly, our story is not unusual; thousands of victims suffered the same abuse during the past 25 years of Prop 8.
Every law, no matter how good it originally was, looses its effectiveness and purpose over time if not enforced. Prop 9 is an updating, addition, reinforcement and re-affirmation that victims must have constitutional rights to participate, and be heard, in the criminal justice system.
- Prop 9 threatens to overcrowd California prisons.
What the opposition is basically talking about is changes in the number of times a violent criminal can have a parole hearing.
Prop 9 lengthens the time interval that violent criminals - the vicious murderers, rapists, pedophiles – can be considered for parole. Many of these criminals are sentenced to long prison terms, most are unrepentant and do not deserve repeated parole hearings where they have no chance for release. Prop 9 ends this waste of time and cost to the prison system and the emotional, physical and financial cost to victims and their families.
Do victims want to keep these people in prison for their full sentence --- YOU BET WE DO! Why would anyone wish these violent predators back into society?
Victims recognize the problems with overcrowding in prison, but freeing the most dangerous prisoners is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Most victims agree that improved sentencing, parole and rehabilitation for non-violent offenders is key to improving the prison system. We do not agree that granting the same consideration to those who are a proven danger to society.
- Prop 9 requires a “Marsy’s Rights” card and information given to victims. At what cost?
Opponents are really stretching logic to list this as an objection. The Marsy’s Rights card does just that, informs victims of their rights. Consider it a Miranda for victims;”you have the right to….”
Cost of a Marsy’s Card? Miniscule in California’s budget. This is an objection of people who find it OK to give prisoners a medical system better than the victims, or most citizens, currently have of can buy? Marsy’s cost – is this really a concern of those who want to raid $8 Billion from a near bankrupt California to provide prisoners health care? Give me a break!
Is cost a concern of people who want to release 30,000 prisoners – 2/3 of whom will be back in prison in 3 years or less after committing more crime…adding even more cost to the justice system? Give me a break!
- Marsy’s Law could “amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually” by stopping early release of criminals
This is the old work horse argument by any opposition to crime legislation or victims’ rights. This was the argument against Prop 8, against 3-strikes, against tougher sentencing laws and against the recent Prop 66 to loosen the 3-strikes law, to name a few.
Victims are concerned with keeping the most violent prisoners locked up for as long as possible, not the non-violent with a promise of rehabilitation. Why on earth would anyone want violent people back on the street?
Recidivism is rampant. In California, 2/3 of parolees return to prison within three years of release, twice the national average. Of violent returnees, 30% were re-sentenced for new crimes (God knows how many crimes they actually commit but are not apprehended) causing more suffering to victims.
Victims suffer from pain, lost income, job loss, withdrawal from family, friends and society, divorce and family breakup, loneliness, deep seated anger, mental and medical costs that may last a lifetime, anguish over parole release, fear of criminal retribution, just few affects of violent crime.
Violent crime is a big dollar cost to society and the victim…about $450 Billion a year for the U.S.
So, figure it out. Does paroling violent prisoners with high recidivism rates make sense?
- Release the prisoners, adding to the cost of maintaining parole monitoring,
- Re-arrest the prisoner, adding to the cost of the new crime to victims and the cost of the criminal justice system to convict once again
- Back to prison, back to square one, adding to the cost of keeping them locked up.
Parole – criminals call it doing time on the installment plan.
- Prop 9 is subject to federal legal challenges. The likelihood that Prop 9 would have any impact at all is negligible at best.
I guess the opposition believes that the federal government will overturn portions or all of Prop 9.
I don’t know about that. Prop 8 has stood the test of time and legal challenge.
The federal prison system is tougher than state prisons; parole was eliminated in federal prisons in 1983.
Virginia and Connecticut have ended parole. New York proposed banning parole as far back as 1995. South Carolina currently has a parole ban issue on their ballot. Many states are watching the positive affects on crime and prison achieved by Virginia and Connecticut.
I seems clear that banning parole is not a new idea; it is successfully implemented in the federal system.
Prop 9 is not banning parole, just changing the frequency of parole hearings. Prisoners are not losing a right to parole. They are losing their right to game the system.
For now, a court challenge is to be expected, an overturn of
Marsy’s Law – Prop 9, probably not!!!