Crime Victims’ Right to Know legislation becomes law

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LANSING, Mich.— The rights of crime victims in Michigan have been strengthened after legislation sponsored by state Sen. Mike Green was signed into law on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1211, now Public Act 564 of 2012, expanded the rights of crime victims by allowing them to present exhibits and other evidence when testifying at parole or commutation hearings. In addition to current parole hearing notifications, victims will now also be notified when a prisoner has applied for reprieve, commutation or pardon or has died while in custody.

Perhaps the most significant change requires that notifications of escapes from custody take place within 24 hours, providing victims with the ability to ensure their personal safety and security.

Green said the legislation was inspired by the personal story of a resident in his district who was savagely attacked in public by her estranged husband. Although the attacker was convicted and imprisoned, the victim and her family struggled to get information from state agencies on the status of his incarceration and his attempts to be released through commutation.

“Innocent victims of crime are now empowered with stronger rights and more information related to their attacker’s incarceration,” said Green. “This measure builds upon Michigan’s legacy as a leader in crime victims’ rights.  Most importantly, it benefits the personal safety and peace of mind of those whose lives have been forever impacted by violent crime.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette recommended enhancements to crime victims’ rights as part of the comprehensive public safety plan he unveiled last year.

“Crime victims deserve the highest standards of fairness, respect, and dignity,” said Schuette. “This new law will add more comfort for those who have already endured too much. I appreciate Lieutenant Governor Calley’s support and the hard work of Senator Mike Green in the fight to promote and defend the rights of crime victims across the state of Michigan.”

In 1985, Michigan led the nation by enacting the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victims’ Rights Act for victims of crime and juvenile offenses. The law was named after its sponsor, a longtime legislator and champion of crime victims’ rights. In 1988, Michigan voters also approved adding crime victims’ rights language to the state constitution.

SB 1211 was signed into law by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.