Some crime victims complain the justice system focuses too much on the rights of the accused instead of victims’ rights, and the complaints have now been brought to Illinois. LaWanda Hawkins, a Chicago native who now lives in California, says law enforcement isn’t currently required to notify victims’ families if the accused has been released, for example – as was the case in the 1983 murder of Marsy Nicholas, for whom “Marsy’s Law” is named.
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Hawkins says Marsy’s mother ran into her daughter’s killer in public. “She was in a state of shock. She could not believe that a murderer was in the store who had killed her daughter,” says Hawkins. “There was no law to say they had to notify her. He was bailed out, and he was walking around daily and free.” Hawkins says such rights would have been useful after her son was murdered in 1995. Illinois lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment that would create a victims’ bill of rights. If approved, it would go on the November ballot. The measure is HJRCA29.