Letter: Victims’ rights must be consistent in Ohio

National Victims of Crime Week will be observed this year from April 24-30. The theme for NCVRW 2022 is “Rights, Access, Equity, For All Victims”. This theme emphasizes the importance of helping survivors of crime achieve justice by upholding victims’ rights and reaching those who are underserved, such as those with limited English, the deaf, or those with disabilities.

As Director of Courts Advocacy and Crime Victim Services Staff Counsel, as well as an inaugural member of the Marsy’s Law Advisory Board for Ohio, I have seen first hand what is missing in Victims of Violent Crime in Our State – Fair Enforcement of the Marsy Law for Ohioans. If Ohio continues to enforce the law loosely and inconsistently across counties, it will continue to fail Ohio’s crime victims. We are very encouraged by the movement of HB 343 in the Ohio House, which will clarify language and rectify loopholes in the law. House Speaker Bob Cupp was the original sponsor of this legislation, and we encourage you to contact him to thank him for his support.

Locally, Crime Victim Services served 4,456 victims in Allen County and 551 victims in Putnam County in 2021. Crime Victim Services provides free assistance and advocacy for victims in felony, misdemeanor and of minors. Advocates work closely with the local justice system to ensure victims’ rights are upheld. It starts with law enforcement giving victims their Marsy’s Law Rights Card at a crime scene, which was created by Crime Victim Services. This assistance continues through to the conclusion of the case, be it sentencing, appeal or eventual parole hearings.

Every Ohioan deserves dignity and respect, especially those who have suffered as a result of crime. We hope National Victims of Crime Week will remind our community to honor victims of crime and those who advocate for them.

Abby Hefflinger

Lima

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