The Push to get a Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Legislation to create a crime victim’s bill of rights in the Kentucky Constitution has been re-filed.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, re-introduced Marsy’s Law Thursday. The substance of the amendment mirrors what passed in 2018 but includes one new provision ensuring victims have the right to be heard and notified in the consideration of any pardon, commutation of sentence or granting of a reprieve.

63 percent of voters approved the amendment in the 2018 election but the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the law after a challenge from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed the lawsuit seeking to knock the question off the November ballot—they said the wording of the questions didn’t accurately portray what the amendment would do.

Senate Bill 15 has been drafted to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling meaning the full text of the amendment will appear on the ballot.

The referendum if adopted will ensure crime victims have the right to notice of court proceedings, the right to be present in court proceedings, the right for victims to have a voice throughout the legal process, and the right to be made aware of their offenders’ custodial status.