United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Proposals for a constitutional amendment to provide rights for victims of crime : hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, on H.J. Res. 173 and H.J. Res. 174 ... July 11, 1996 online

. (page 21 of 24)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JProposals for a constitutional amendment to provide rights for victims of crime : hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, on H.J. Res. 173 and H.J. Res. 174 ... July 11, 1996 → online text (page 21 of 24)
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wtaeiher to revoke an mmate's televiaao prmkfcs or ptacc an eiectroo-
K Dwoiumng bracelet oo a parolee s ankle.

The courts particuiarty would be cnppled. and oot rust by bemg
forced to provide more tnais taster. By granting a ngbt to a "final coo-
clusaoo free fa^mi unreasonable delay* m additxm to a 'speedy trui.' the
amendment could open up the posaibihrv of a victim i sumg a ^ge for
DOC wrappittg up a case fast enough. It would also trump the eihaustive
habeas corpus sutute that Coogresa finally baa passed to speed up the
r enew at citmmal convxnoos. reopening worlds oi ambiguity about
wtiether any delay incurred m correcting a wrongful convictJOQ coukl
poaaibty be "unreasonable.'

And the burdens uin^'*^'^ oo the courts by grvng w*"'^"*** a i-ijuummoo*
al nght to hiD iraijimaai would be oot onty maasve but pontleoa. More
than &S p er ce pt d all crmnoal defendants are mdifcnL with do abitrcy to
pay i Tf^niM""' Yet oam stiD vouid be rvqnred to boU huudi e d i trf
TfamK^wd s C^ h—naf to detgntang who was h r med and CyrtJy how
much, and to oaue a preaae. tar, but oompletety uaeleas order.

Moreorer. faraag the natioo s probatjon officers to endleaa^y pursue
uDooOectible debU wouid take them away tnxa their mam )ob of super-
vieug defendanu and ennmatei

Perhaps the biggeat lasers, though, would be ordinary Amencaos.
Gfveo the dram oo the tmte and resources cd sooety's cnroe-fightmf b>-

tin iinBn itw^ti«*m|pr na*rii t f>r« pnhff» mitrt«aild prnhannw frffie»r54

(202) 434-(05« FAX

August IS. 1996

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
United States House of Represcntauves
Washington, DC. 20515


Aaomey Omerat of MoMMoehiurm

James E. Doyle

Aaamey Omeroi of Wiscatuui



Aaom^ Gent raj o/UitiUxip/x



Aaomey GtneraJ of Sew Mexico

Dear Congressman Hyde:

As chair and vice-chair of the National Associauon of Attorneys GeneraJ ("NAAG") Victims" Rights
Task Force, we wnie on behalf of the state attorneys general to you, as Chairman of the US House Judiciary
Comrmttee, to express our uiteresl in the proposed victims' nghts Consututional amendment

The NAAG Vi 'ims" Rights Task Force was created by a resolution adopted at the NAAG Summer
Meeting Under the resolution, a copy of which is attached for your information, the task force is instructed to
stud\', analyze and make a recommendation on the proposed crime victims' nghts Constitutional amendmenL

It IS a challenging task that we are attcmptmg to accomplish as quickly as possible We are currently
woriang to develop an informed consensus opmion that reflects both the importance of this policy decision and
Its broad unplications We look forward to working closely with the Congress, the administration, and the
victims' rights community.

This IS an issue in which many attome>'s general have been very mvolved in theu- respective states. As
you are aware, more than twent\ states already have a victims' rights provision in their stale constitutions and
all but six states have either a constitutional or statutory provision.

It IS cnDcal that the combuied expertise of the states be used on this unportant issue We look forward
to working with you.


JerorfuahW (JiiV) Nixon
Attorney General of Missouri
Chair, Victims' Rights Task Force


Jeffrey R. Howard

Attorney General of New Hampshire

Vice-Chair, Victuns' Rights Task Force


cc Attomev' General Scott Harshbarger, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, NAAG President
Christine Milliken, Executive Director, NAAG




Summer Meeting

June 9-12, 1996

St. Louis, Missouri



WHEREAS, millions of people and households in the United States are victimized by crime
each year; and

WHEREAS, many victims and their survivors face substantial fmancial loss, physical mjuiy,
emotional trauma and significantly reduced quality of life; and

WHEREAS, family members and friends of victims and survivors of cnme also suffer from
similar trauma; and

WHEREAS, victims have a nght to be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, and sensitivity
and the cnminal justice system still fails to provide too many victims with meaningful access and
participation; and

WHEREAS, twenty states already have amended their constimtions to provide for the nghts
of victims in their state criminal justice process; and

WHEREAS, a similar number of states currently have statutory provisions affording cnme
victims certain nghts m the cnmma! justice system; and

WHEREAS, Congress recently passed legislation making restitution mandatory in all federal
cnminal cases; and

WHEREAS, a number of states have similar laws requinng orders of restimtion in cnminal
cases; and


WHEREAS, the National Association of Attorneys General has supported victims of cnme
legislation since at least 1979; and

WHEREAS, a proposed Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendment was recently introduced
in both Houses of Congress; and

WHEREAS, the decision to amend the United States Constitution is a decision of the utmost
importance which cannot be taken without due regard for established principles of federalism and
for the hard won protections victims of cnme now enjoy under state law; and

WHEREAS, questions have been raised about the impact of the proposed Amendment on
state criminal and juvenile justice systems;


1. Reaffirms its commitment to support victims' nghts through support for appropnate
constitutional amendments in states, commonwealths, and territones that do not have such an

2. Reaffirms its commitment to support enactment of a meaningful statutory Victims' Bill
of Rights in states, commonwealths, and temtones that do not already have such a statute;

3. Authonzes NAAG to establish a working group to: (a) study and develop an
understanding and analysis of the proposed constitutional amendment , its impact upon the states and
the necessity of the proposed amendment; (b) work cooperatively with the Congress, the U.S.
Department of Justice, the National Distnct Attorneys Association, victims' nghts groups and other
interested groups or organizations as necessary to accomplish its goals; and (c) if it is determmed that
a constitutional amendment is necessary, suggest any recommended modifications to the proposed
amendment; and

4. Authorizes the Executive Director of the Association to transmit the resolution to all
appropnate entities.

Approved June 1 1, 1996





June 21. 199(

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President;

I was pleased to read the news accounts today suggesting that you may soon endorse an
amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing certain basic rights for the victims of
crime. As you may know, I endorsed a federal victims' rights amendment last month during a
speech in Aurora, Colorado. It is my hope that we can put partisanship aside and that you will
decide to join me in this effort.

As you may know. 20 states have adopted state constitutional amendments protecting
victims' rights. Now it is time to extend these rights to every crime victim in America.

Last year, 43 million Americans were the victims of crime; nearly 1 1 million Americans
were the victims of violent crime, such as murder, rap>e, and aggravated assault. Unfortunately,
when the perpetrators of these vicious acts arc finally caught and arrested, their victims are all
too often marginalized by the criminal justice system. For example, crime victims are often
forced to sit outside the courtroom during trials because they are witnesses. In many cases, they
are unable to give information to the judge about settmg bail. They are often kept in the dark,
rarely being informed about the schedule of court proceedings or the entry of plea bargains. And
once the trial starts, the focus is typically not on the crime victim, but on the rights and needs of
the criminal defendant.

Quite simply, we must restore some balance to oui criminal justice system. "Justice for
all" must mean justice for the victims of crime and their families.

At the same lime, a federal victims' rights amendment is more than just a phrase to be
casually thrown about as political rhetoric. To be meaningful, it should guarantee the following
basic rights:

* the right to be informed of, and given the opportunity to be present at, every relevant

proceeding involving the accused or convicted offender;

* the right to be heard at any proceeding involving sentencing;

* the right to be informed of any release of, or escape by, the offender;

Authorized and paid for by Dole for President, Inc., Robert Lighthizer, Treasurer
810 First Street. Northeast • Suite 300 • Washington, D.C. 20002 • (202) 414-6400


* the right to object to a previously negotiated plea or a release from custody;

* the right to a speedy trial and a final conclusion of the case free from unreasonable


' the right to restitution from the convicted offender; and

* the right to be protected from violence or intimidation by the accused or convicted


Mr. President, I hope today's news reports are accurate. On behalf of the millions of
Americans who arc victimized by crime each year, I urge you to join me in supporting a
meaningful victims' rights amendment to the United States Constitution.












TUESDAY, MAY 28, 1996

Thank you all very much. It's great to be here with all of you. I'm especially pleased to
be with your outstanding attorney general, Gale Norton.

I'm honored to be joined today by so many fine men and women who have dedicated
their careers to serving and defending the public. Those of us in the political world talk a lot
about fighting crime, but you arc on the front lines every day - safeguarding our communities
and protecting our streets. I salute each and every one of you.

Most Americans need little convincing That we have a crime problem of very serious
dimensions in this country. When people say our country is headed in the wrong direction, one
of the first things they cite is the explosion of crime.

I've seen America come through some tough challenges in my lifetime; we have a few
more challenges ahead. I am hopeful because I know that whatever problems we face,
Americans have what it takes to resolve them.

But I think there is a general feeling that in our criminal justice system, somedung has
gone terribly wrong. We all know the problems.

More than 43 million of our fellow citizens arc victims of crime each year; eleven million
of these crimes are violent. But only 1 in 100 violent crimes ends in a jail sentence.

Vet when criminals are caught by police and brought to trial, they may never do time.
Violent criminals are only 1/Sth as likely to serve their full sentence as they were in the 1960s.
Convicted rapists serve, on average, only five years in prison. Drug traffickers less than two.

Many Americans believe our criminal justice system is failing. And they are right.

Our two parties have embraced two very different visions of crime and punishment.
Until fairly recently, the debate in America was about how to catch and punish wrongdoers, not
whether to punish them or whether they were even wrongdoers. The debate was not about "root
causes" and theories about rehabilitation. It was about right and wrong ... guilt and mnocencc.
We believed killing is caused by killers, robbing by robbers, drug-dealing by drug dealers.

The liberal view is that crime and violence are not so much punishable offenses as

Authorized and paid for by Dole for President, Inc., Robert Lighthuer, Treasurer
SIO Pint Street, Northeast • Suite 300 • Washington, D.C. 20002 • (202) 414-6400


treatable disorders. But the liberal philosophy is not the solution to our crime problem. In fact,
it's one of the sources of the problem.

And it's one of the reasons Bill Clinton will be remembered as a president who just didn't
get it. He understands what he needs to say, but he jusi doesn't grasp what he needs to do.

Now last month, I caught some criticism for questioning Bill Clinton's judicial
appointments. Democrats complained that I was trying to politicize the courts, as if the judicial
philosophy a President brings into office was not an important factor in the mm

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JProposals for a constitutional amendment to provide rights for victims of crime : hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, on H.J. Res. 173 and H.J. Res. 174 ... July 11, 1996 → online text (page 21 of 24)