Marsy's Law Advocates Pushing for More Victims' Rights
MOSCOW, ID —
Victims' rights advocates are kicking off a busy campaign to get Marsy's Law on the November 2018 ballot. Marsy's Law aims to give crime victims the same rights granted to accused and convicted criminals.
The law could come before voters in 2018 if it can pass the Idaho House and Senate.That's why people like Lauren Busdon are appealing to lawmakers from both sides of the table.
The 19-year-old is a busy University of Idaho sophomore. She's been juggling college life and a new public speaking gig.
Lauren Busdon says, "I got to speak in front of the Senate and the House."
Lauren is an advocate for Marsy's Law for Idaho. The proposal seeks to amend Idaho's constitution to give more rights for crime victims.
Busdon says, "When I was 14 years old I was raped by an 18-year-old."
She's been sharing her support and her story.
Busdon says, "The man had raped before and he ended up raping again."
Lauren's rapist was eventually convicted, but she says the judicial process often left her feeling victimized all over again.
Busdon says, "There have been times I've sat in the same waiting room as my rapist's family and when that was obviously uncomfortable for me, I sat in a prison cafeteria."
Lauren says she wasn't given notice of court dates and was told she wasn't allowed to speak at those appearances. Without having a lawyer in the family, she says her voice may have never been heard at all, and her rapist may not be in prison today.
Busdon says, "During my experience with the court I was often overlooked, my voice wasn't always heard when it should have been."
Lauren's story isn't unusual. While Idaho does have statutes for victims, they were added to the state constitution in 1994. Over 20 years later, Marsy's Law for Idaho aims to strenghten those rights.
Busdon says, "Victims of crimes would have to be notified weeks prior to court events, hearings, release of a criminal. That way victims have rights equal to accused and convicted criminals."
The proposed amendment has already died once in the Idaho legislature. But supporters like Busdon are hopeful that increased awareness will make the difference because, she says, it can happen to anyone.
Busdon tearfully says, "Being...being treated equal and with respect through all court proceedings is very important. It's not necessarily about my history even though my past has been really hard. It's about knowing that I can make a difference and other people can help make a difference as well."
In her second year at the University of Idaho, Lauren has changed her career path from architecture to public relations.