Keeping Our Promise to Crime Victims and Building on the Success of SQ 794
Last November, Oklahoma voters passed State Question 794, establishing stronger Constitutional rights for victims of crime. The Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma team was proud to be a part of that great win for victims and their families. Our work, however, didn’t end in November.
Today we are working with victims’ rights advocates, lawmakers, and law enforcement personnel to make sure the promises made and rights guaranteed in Oklahoma’s Constitution are reflected in statute and properly implemented.
To do that, we have conducted a gap analysis to see where laws might need updating to reflect changes made by SQ 794. We’re meeting with lawmakers to discuss legislative fixes. And, most importantly, we’re reaching out to victims and victim advocates to ensure that our legal and policy goals are resulting in real-world improvements.
Last week, the Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma team met with Lauren Layman of the Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Support Group, YWCA CEO Jan Peery, and YWCA Director of the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Program Yovana Medina. Our wide-ranging policy brainstorm session covered the need for statewide uniformity in policy, the importance of raising awareness of the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and the gap between victims' rights and access for people navigating the juvenile system. Above all, they told us, victims need to 1) be kept informed of all updates in their case 2) be assured of responsiveness from law enforcement and legal teams and 3) helped through a legal process with no surprises, or as few surprises as possible.
This is an important ongoing dialogue that we will continue to have in the coming weeks and months, and we’ll be working to actively connect these advocates with policymakers who can address these goals. SQ 794 was a big win; but now we need to build on that success to ensure the state of Oklahoma keeps its promise to victims of crime.