‘System’ should serve all

All too often, it seems criminals get more breaks than their victims from “the system.” That could change, at least to some extent, in Ohio.

On the ballot in the Buckeye State this fall will be an initiative being referred to as Marsy’s Law for Ohio. The name comes from Marsy Nicholas, a California woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. California enacted a victim’s rights law in 2008. Much of the expense to campaign for a similar measure in Ohio is being paid for by Nicholas’ brother.

If adopted, Marsy’s Law for Ohio would require that crime victims and their families be informed of all court proceedings involving those who harmed them. It would require they be allowed to tell of the crimes from which they suffered. And, perhaps most important, it would require victims have input on plea agreements.

That has been a big complaint of many crime victims.

Fortunately, judges in Eastern Ohio tend to give strong consideration to the ways in which crimes impact victims. Victim impact statements are usually ordered and considered by the court prior to sentencing in major cases, and victims often have the opportunity to address the court before punishment is handed down.

Marsy’s Law has struck a nerve among many Ohioans, to the point that it was certified by Secretary of State Jon Husted after supporters of the measure submitted more than 371,000 valid signatures on petitions. Only about 305,000 are required.

Our nation’s system of justice is slanted in a way toward the accused. That is by design; the founders believed strongly in safeguards to ensure only those proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt could be convicted of crimes and punished.

That was entirely proper.

But at the same time, people are victimized, too often brutally, by criminals. The men, women and children who suffer at their hands deserve some consideration, too.

Marsy’s Law for Ohio is nothing more than an attempt to ensure there is balance between the rights of criminals and their victims.

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