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Marsy’s Law: Real problems, symbolic benefits

April 11. 2018 11:13PM

Crime victims and their relatives on Tuesday provided members of the House Judiciary and Criminal Justice Committees powerful and personal testimony on their desire to write victims’ rights into the New Hampshire Constitution.

We sympathize with the push for Marsy’s Law. Too often, the criminal justice system adds a lengthy and trying ordeal for innocents targeted by criminals. Passing a constitutional amendment, CACR 22, would show symbolic support for victims.

But symbolism is all that it offers.

Carving specific criminal justice procedures into the New Hampshire Constitution would not actually do anything to ease that burden. Criminal defendants have a right to confront their accusers. This does not give them more rights than victims. It assures that we all have the same rights should the state ever seek to curb our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We share retired Justice Carol Ann Conboy’s concerns about the unintended consequences of Marsy’s Law.

The specifics of CACR 22 would endanger the public’s ability to know about crimes committed near their homes, schools, and businesses.

Police, prosecutors, and courts should treat crime victims with dignity and respect. We have laws on the books that require such treatment. But as Sen. Bob Giuda says, “It’s implementation that matters.”

Marsy’s Law is not the answer.


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