Equality for Crime Victims is a Must for Mississippi


Click here to reach the source page for this opinion piece from Rep. Fred Shanks, Guest Columnist for the Clarion Ledger

Through my role in law enforcement, I am all too familiar with the pain and suffering crime victims and their families face. In that role, my mission has been to bring peace and justice for victims and making this state a better place for its people.

Now, I serve the people of District 60 and Mississippi as chairman of the House of Representatives’ Constitution Committee. Here, it’s my goal to continue my mission of serving Mississippi by supporting common-sense legislation that helps crime victims have a voice in the process. That is why I am sponsoring Marsy’s Law for Mississippi in the 2020 Mississippi Legislative session.

Often, after a crime occurs, traumatized victims are left to blindly pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, their suffering often does not end with the perpetrator’s arrest. Instead, many are often revictimized by the system due to a lack of fully enforceable, equally protected constitutional rights in our justice system. I support due process and legal access for criminals, but at the very least, we should treat victims equally when it comes to protecting their rights.

Amending Mississippi’s constitution is no small matter, but enacting Marsy’s Law in Mississippi will help balance the scales of justice in Mississippi. That is why I decided to sponsor Marsy’s Law for Mississippi.

Marsy’s Law was named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after her death, the family was shocked when they were confronted and threatened by the accused murderer while grocery shopping. They had received no notification or warning that he had been released on bail. Marsy’s murderer was released and no one in her family was informed. Marsy’s loved ones have made it their mission to ensure no other family is faced with an experience like theirs. Marsy’s Law for All is a national effort to enhance victims’ rights in every state. With their support, Marsy’s Law passed in California in 2008, creating the most comprehensive constitutional victims’ rights law in the country.


Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee (Marsy) Ann Nicholas, who was stalked
and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after her murder, Marsy’s
mother was confronted by her daughter’s murderer in a grocery store.
Having received no notification from the judicial system, the family was
unaware that he had been released on bail mere days after the murder.
Marsy’s family, and others, have faced pain and suffering since the courts and
law enforcement are not obligated to keep them informed.
While criminals have more than 20 individual rights spelled out in the U.S.
Constitution, the surviving family members of murder victims have none.
Marsy’s Law for All seeks to amend the Mississippi constitution to ensure that
crime victims have the same co-equal rights as the accused and convicted.
Victims and advocates interested in sharing their stories can email [email protected]