SCOTT CAMPBELL, STEPHANIE ROPER, WENDY PRESTON, LOUARNA GILLIS, AND NILA LYNN CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS ACT
Mr. DEWINE. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Crime Victims' Rights Act. As a former county prosecuting attorney, this is an issue about which I feel very strongly. All too often, our criminal justice system overlooks the victims of crime in efforts to ensure the legitimate rights of accused defendants.
Crime victims simply have not been given the equal footing that they deserve. From start to finish, the legal system sometimes can be a terrible ordeal for victims-a bureaucratic nightmare that seems to and in fact many times does go on and on and on.
We substantially protect the rights of defendants, as well we should. We ensure that they have every reasonable benefit-and that is good-so as to ensure the acquittal of the innocent. But, in the process, I believe that many times, we don't give the victims of crime the rights that they, too, deserve. When I was a county prosecutor in Greene County, OH in the 1970s I saw too many crime victims-people who had already been hurt-hurt a second time by a callous legal system. That is why I did everything that I could to protect the rights of those victims. Our bottom line has to be this: To be victimized once by crime is already once too often. To be victimized yet again by an uncaring judicial system is totally unacceptable.
Accordingly, I am pleased to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that will afford these victims, the fundamental right to participate in the criminal justice system. It just makes good sense for the innocent victim of a crime to be given the right to know if his or her assailant is released or escapes from prison. It is simply fairness to recognize a crime victim's right to reasonable notice of public proceedings involving the crime; the right to not be excluded from such public proceedings; and the right to be heard at the public release, plea, sentencing, reprieve, and pardon proceedings involving that victim's assailant. It's about time that we guarantee crime victims their rights to court decisions that duly consider their safety, their rights to have the courts avoid unreasonable delay in adjudicating those charged with harming them, and their rights to just and timely restitution from their offenders. This legislation is about victims. This legislation is about working to keep victims safe from further harm. This legislation is about keeping their concerns at the forefront.
When I was Green County prosecuting attorney, I had seen the victims of murder and other terrible crimes. I interviewed people who had been abused, assaulted, and raped. I learned a lot from talking to these innocent people. I learned that we have to make the crime victim a full participant-not a forgotten person, not a neglected person-in the criminal justice system.
That is why I cosponsored this bipartisan legislation. It is designed to help guarantee that the victims of crime have access to our criminal justice system. It is time to stop treating the victims like they are the criminals. Let's move the legitimate concerns of victims toward center stage in our criminal justice system and finally provide these innocent victims with the rights they deserve.