LANSING, Mich.— Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate last week to strengthen the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
Known as “Crime Victims’ Right to Know” legislation, Senate Bill 1211 would expand the rights of crime victims by allowing them to present exhibits when testifying at parole or commutation hearings, which would enable them to more effectively portray the impact of the crime on their lives.
The measure would also require that, in addition to current parole hearing notifications, victims be notified when a prisoner has applied for reprieve, commutation or pardon; has absconded while on bail or other release; or has died while in custody.
“This measure builds upon Michigan’s legacy as a leader in recognizing and protecting the rights of victims of crime and it strengthens those rights under state law,” said Green. “Crime victims will have more tools, more information and more protection if this bill is passed.”
In 1985 the state of 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 would accomplish an important part of a comprehensive public safety plan proposed earlier this year by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has made crime victims’ rights one of his major priorities.
“Crime victims and their families have a right to know, and they deserve a sense of security,” said Schuette. “If their perpetrator is on the run from authorities, they have the right to know, so they can plan for their own safety. If their perpetrator dies, they deserve to know so they can sleep more soundly at night. I applaud Senator Green for standing tall for those whose voice is often not heard.”
Bay County Crime Victim Rights Advocate Cindy Howell also praised the proposed changes.
“The importance of affording crime victims participation in every aspect of their perpetrator’s case—from arrest to release—is imperative,” Howell remarked. “These proposed changes would allow crime victims the full extent of input in Michigan Department of Corrections proceedings that they deserve and the notification they need to live safely and securely.
“With the recent passing of Senator Van Regenmorter, Michigan’s ‘Father of Victims’ Rights,’ it is comforting to see Schuette and Green pick up the torch on behalf of victims of violent crime and continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. Green said he expects the bill to move quickly through the legislative process with bipartisan support.
For further information on current crime victims’ rights in Michigan, please visit www.statesenatormikegreen.com or call Green toll-free at 1-866-305-2131.