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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

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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 8 of 24)
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sexual offenders to drunk drivers, to homicides. We run the gamut.

I believe that the constitutional amendment in our State and the
victims bill of right statute has worked well and made our court
system both more accountable and more respected by our citizens.
Victims and their loved ones come to court knowing that nothing
can change or undo the harm that has been committed. When a life
has been taken, there is nothing we can do to bring it back. When
a child's innocence is lost because of a molestation, the lifelong
damage is not erased by a trial or a conviction. But in our pursuit
of justice, we can and we must work to ensure that victims have
respect for and confidence in our judicial system. We must continue
to work to ensure that our system of law and justice is respected.
The words of George Washington are as true today as they were
articulated more than 200 years ago. "The administration of justice
is the firmest pillar of Government."

I have worked with hundreds of victims of crime and explained
our criminal justice system to parents grieving over the loss of a
child. I have witnessed the courage of women who have come for-



52

ward brutalized by sexual assault. It takes a great deal of personal
strength and courage as you heard from the earlier panel. Often we
explain to them that the procedures we have in place to protect the
rights of the accused, and I know that they wonder what about my
rights. However they articulate it, what they are looking for is one
thing, justice. They gain that sense of satisfaction when a jury in
their case convicts the accused, when they walk out of a courtroom
with a sense that someone cared about their suffering, that some-
one believed their account of the facts, and that society has given
them an outlet to redress the wrong that was done to them.

Critics might say that adopting this kind of an amendment
trivializes the Constitution. I disagree with that notion. I think the
value of these constitutional provisions is illustrated by the many
victims in our State who make use of their right to address the
court at sentencing. That right gives them an official forum in
which to stand face to face with the defendant, asking the sentenc-
ing judge to hold that defendant accountable for the harm that the
victim has suffered. I have seen the empowering effect that this
has on victims. I think recognizing the unique status of victims in
the Constitution is an important part of assuring that both our
State and Federal judicial systems deliver on that promise of jus-
tice.

Mr. Hyde. Could you conclude, Mr. Pine.

Mr. Pine. Yes, I will, sir. I am generally reluctant to amending
the Constitution. But I think with appropriate discussion, intel-
ligent debate, and careful consideration, victims of crime are enti-
tled to a codification of those rights. I think that there has to be
an unambiguous guarantee that they participate in the process.

I also think that it is important to articulate or comment on res-
ervations about these kinds of measures. There are generally three.
I'll just briefly outline them. I know that there will be questions.
Generally, people who are concerned about a constitutional amend-
ment are concerned that any amendment not create a private right
of action for damages against a prosecutor or other State or local
official who makes a good-faith attempt to comply with its provi-
sions.

Secondly, those opposed are concerned that any amendment not
give victims absolute veto power over discretionary decisions typi-
cally left to law enforcement and prosecutors, such as charging or
sentencing recommendations.

Third, there are those who are concerned about the effect of any
Federal constitutional amendment on State constitutional or statu-
tory provisions affording victims certain rights in their State crimi-
nal justice system.

To that end, the National Association of Attorneys General has
appointed a working group chaired by the Missouri Attorney Gen-
eral Jay Nixon to analyze these issues from a prosecution point of
view. We look forward to sharing that analysis with you and to
working on this issue, as you have indicated. Speaking as the
Rhode Island attorney general, I am confident that a meaningful
amendment can be drafted to address these concerns. I look for-
ward personally to working with you to do that. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Pine follows:]



53

Prepared Statement of Jeffrey B. Pine, Attorney General, State of Rhode

Island

Testimony of Rhode Island Attorney General Jeffrey B. Pine:
THANK YOU, MR. CHAIRMAN. IT IS AN HONOR TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO
ADDRESS THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE THIS MORNING ON A
SUBJECT OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TO THE VICTIMS OF CRIME AND TO THE
INTEGRITY OF OUR SYSTEM OF JUSTICE.

I WANT TO PREFACE MY REMARKS BY STATING THAT THE TESTIMONY I AM ABOUT
TO GIVE REFLECTS MY VIEWS AS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF RHODE ISLAND AND DOES
NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF ALL STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL OR
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL.

THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY AS A NATION, OUR COURTS HAVE PLACED GREAT
EMPHASIS ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS. AS
RHODE ISLAND'S ATTORNEY GENERAL, I AM MINDFUL, GRATEFUL, AND
SUPPORTIVE OF THESE BASIC RIGHTS.



54

Page 2 of 11

BUT AS A CAREER, CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR, I AM ALSO MINDFUL OF THE
IMPORTANCE OF ENSURING THAT VICTIMS OF CRIME BE TREATED WITH FAIRNESS,
DIGNITY, AND RESPECT THROUGHOUT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND THAT
OUR SYSTEM FINALLY RECOGNIZES CERTAIN BASIC RIGHTS POSSESSED BY ALL
VICTIMS OF CRIME.

I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT, AFTER CAREFUL CONSIDERATION AND DEBATE, AN
AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, WHICH WOULD ENSURE THAT
VICTIMS OF CRIME CAN PARTICIPATE AND HAVE THEIR VOICES HEARD IN A
COURT OF LAW, IS BOTH APPROPRIATE, ESSENTIAL, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY,



IN RHODE ISLAND, OUR CONSTITUTION SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT THE
GOVERNMENT OF OUR STATE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR "THE PROTECTION,
SAPETY, AND HAPPINESS OF THE PEOPLE" (R.I. Const. Art. I, sec. 2).
MOREOVER, ON AT LEAST FOUR OCCASSIONS THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS FORMERLY RECOGNIZING CRIME



55



Page 3 of H

VICTIMS RIGHTS. THE DECLARATION OF RIGHTS CONTAINED WITHIN THE RHODE
ISLAND CONSTITUTION FURTHER PROVIDES THAT VICTIMS HAVE A
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE TREATED "WITH DIGNITY, RESPECT, AND
SENSITIVITY DURING ALL PHASES OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS" (R.I.
Const. Art. I, eec. 23). FURTHERMORE, THE RHODE ISLAND CONSTITUTION'
PROVIDES THAT THESE RIGHTS SHOULD BE INCLUDED AMONG THOSE THAT WOULD
CONSTITUTE THE "PARAMOUNT OBLIGATION IN ALL LEGISLATIVE, JUDICIAL AND
EXECUTIVE PROCEEDINGS" (R.I. Const, preamble) .

RHODE ISLAND GENERAL LAWS ALSO CONTAINS A "VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS"
WHICH IMPLEMENT IN STATUTORY FORM THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES
REFERENCED EARLIER.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IN RHODE ISLAND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S
OFFICE PROSECUTES ALL FELONY CASES, MUCH LIKE DISTRICT ATTORNEYS DO IN
MOST OTHER STATES. AND AS A CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR IN RHODE ISLAND SINCE
1979, I HAVE PERSONALLY PROSECUTED THE MOST HEINOUS OF CRIMES AND
CONVICTED THE MOST VIOLENT OF DEFENDANTS, AND I THEREFORE CAN SAY THAT



56

Page 4 of 11

IT IS NOT ONLY MY PERSONAL VIEW BUT MY PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE THAT
HAVING VICTIMS PARTICIPATING AND INVOLVED AT EACH STAGE OF THE
JUDICIAL PROCESS HELPS PROSECUTORS DO A BETTER JOB FROM ARREST THROUGH
PAROLE .

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT JUSTICE MUST BE DONE IN
ALL CASES SO THAT THE SYSTEM YIELDS A RESULT THAT IS FAIR TO BOTH THE
DEFENDANT AND THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE. PART OF THAT PROCESS SHOULD
INCLUDE THE VOICE OF THE VICTIM.

WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT SPECIAL RIGHTS FOR A SPECIAL CLASS — IN 1995,
1 IN 7 AMERICANS WERE VICTIMS OF CRIME. THAT'S 4 3 MILLION OF OUR
PARENTS AND OUR CHILDREN, OUR BROTHERS AND OUR SISTERS, OUR NEIGHBORS
AND OUR CO-WORKERS. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WE SEE DAY AND NIGHT IN OUR
SHELTERS AND OUR HOSPITALS, IN OUR CLINICS AND OUR DOCTORS' OFFICES,
AND IN OUR POLICE STATIONS AND OUR COURTHOUSES.



57

Page 5 of 11

WE KNOW ALL TOO WELL THAT AFTER THE CRIME IS COMMITTED, VICTIMS MAY
ENCOUNTER MANY MENTAL, PHYSICAL, AND ECONOMIC CHALLENGES. AS A
PROSECUTOR AND AN ELECTED OFFICIAL, IT IS MY JOB TO MAKE THEM FEEL A
LITTLE LESS UNEASY, A LITTLE LESS FRIGHTENED, MORE INFORMED, AND MORE
UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THEY MAY ENCOUNTER AS A VICTIM.

IN THE RHODE ISLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, OUR VICTIM-WITNESS UNIT
SEES FIRST HAND THE TOLL OF CRIME - UPON WOMEN, UPON CHILDREN, UPON
THE ELDERLY, UPON BUSINESSES.

AND WE PROSECUTE SEXUAL OFFENDERS; DOMESTIC ABUSERS; GANG ■ AND JU-VENILH
VIOLENCE; RECKLESS DRIVING AND DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE; BURGLARY,
.^03BERY, & THEFT... AND EACH YEAR, WE WORK WITH THE THOUSANDS OF
VICTIMS WHO AREN'T IN THE HEADLINES, BUT WHO STILL NEED THE RIGHTS AND
GUARANTEES TO JUSTICE THAT THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WOULD PROVIDE,

I BELIEVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN RI AND THE "VICTIMS BILL OF
RIGHTS" STATUTE HAS WORKED WELL AND HAS MADE OUR COURT SYSTEM BOTH
MORE ACCOUNTABLE AND MORE RESPECTED BY OUR CITIZENS.



58

Page 6 of 11

VICTIMS AND THEIR LOVED ONES COME TO OUR COURTS KNOWING THAT NOTHING
CAN CHANGE OR UNDO THE CRIME THAT HAS BEEN COMMITTED — WHEN A LIFE
HAS BEEN TAKEN THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO TO BRING IT BACK AND WHEN A
CHILD'S INNOCENCE HAS BEEN LOST BECAUSE OF A MOLESTER, THE LIFELONG
DAMAGE IS NOT ERASED BY A TRIAL OR A CONVICTION. BUT IN OUR PURSUIT
OF JUSTICE WE CAN AND WE MUST WORK TO ENSURE THAT VICTIMS HAVE RESPECT
FOR AND CONFIDENCE IN OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM. WE MUST CONTINUE TO WORK
TO ENSURE THAT OUR SYSTEM OF LAW AND JUSTICE IS RESPECTED. THE WORDS
OF GEORGE WASHINGTON ARE AS TRUE TODAY AS WHEN THEY WERE ARTICULATED
MORE THAN 200 YEARS AGO: "THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IS THE FIRMEST
PILLAR OF GOVERNMENT."

I HAVE WORKED WITH HUNDREDS OF VICTIMS OF CRIME. I HAVE EXPLAINED OUR
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM TO PARENTS GRIEVING OVER THE LOSS OF A CHILD.
I HAVE WITNESSED THE COURAGE OF THE WOMEN BRUTALIZED BY SEXUAL
ASSAULT, OR SMALL CHILDREN SCARRED BY CHILD MOLESTATION. IMAGINE THE
PERSONAL STRENGTH THAT IT TAKES FOR THESE VICTIMS TO COME FORWARD, TO



59

Page 7 of 11

TALK TO THE POLICE, TO SUBMIT TO CROSS-EXAMINATION, AND TO REVEAL THE
MOST PRIVATE AND DEGRADING FACTS IN AN OPEN COURTROOM. OFTEN WE HAVE
TO EXPLAIN TO THEM THE PROCEDURES THAT WE HAVE IN PLACE TO PROTECT THE
RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED. AND SOME OF THESE VICTIMS MUST WONDER, "WHAT
ABOUT MY RIGHTS?" WHATEVER WORDS THEY USE, HOWEVER THEY ARTICULATE
IT, WHAT THEY ARE REALLY LOOKING FOR FROM OUR CRIMINAL SYSTEM IS ONE
THING — JUSTICE. I HAVE PERSONALLY SHARED THE SATISFACTION THAT
VICTIMS FEEL WHEN THE JURY IN THEIR CASE CONVICTS THE ACCUSED. THESE
VICTIMS WALK OUT OF THE COURTROOM WITH A SENSE THAT SOMEONE CARED
ABOUT THEIR SUFFERING, THAT SOMEONE BELIEVED THEIR ACCOUNT OF THE
FACTS, AND THAT SOCIETY HAS GIVEN THEM AN OUTLET TO REDRESS THE WRONG
THAT WAS DONE TO THEM.

FORTUNATELY, IN RHODE ISLAND, AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, WE HAVE A
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION THAT RECOGNIZES VICTIMS' RIGHTS, AND WE HAVE
A STATUTORY VICTIMS' BILL OF RIGHTS THAT GIVES REAL MEANING TO THESE
CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS.



60

Page B of 11

SOME CRITICS MIGHT SAY THAT ADOPTING SUCH AN AMENDMENT TRIVIALIZES THE
CONSTITUTION. I DISAGREE WITH THAT NOTION, AND I THINK THAT THE VALUE
OF SUCH CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS IS ILLUSTRATED BY THE MANY VICTIMS
WHO MAKE USE OF THEIR RIGHT TO ADDRESS THE COURT AT SENTENCING. THIS
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT GIVES THE VICTIM AN OFFICIAL FORUM IN WHICH TO
STAND FACE TO FACE WITH THE DEFENDANT AND ASK THE SENTENCING JUDGE TO
HOLD THE DEFENDANT ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE HARM THAT THE VICTIM SUFFERED.

IN MY LONG EXPERIENCE AS A PROSECUTOR, I HAVE SEEN THE EMPOWERING
EFFECT THAT THIS HAS ON VICTIMS, AND I THINK RECOGNIZING THE UNIQUE
STATUS OF VICTIMS IN OUR CONSTITUTION IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF ASSURING
THAT BOTH OUR STATE AND FEDERAL JUDICIAL SYSTEMS DELIVER ON THE
PROMISE OF JUSTICE.

AS JAMES MADISON WROTE IN FEDERALIST 51: "JUSTICE IS THE END OF
GOVERNMENT. IT IS THE END OF CIVIL SOCIETY. IT EVER HAS BEEN AND
EVER WILL BE PURSUED UNTIL IT BE OBTAINED..." THIS QUEST FOR JUSTICE
IS AT THE VERY HEART OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
RECOGNIZING THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS CAN ONLY FURTHER THIS GREAT PURSUIT.



61

Page 9 of 11

I AM GENERALLY RELUCTANT TO AMENDING OUR CONSTITUTION. BUT WITH
APPROPRIATE DISCUSSION, INTELLIGENT DEBATE, AND CAREFUL CONSIDERATION,
I BELIEVE THAT THE VICTIMS OF CRIME ARE ENTITLED TO A CODIFICATION OF
THEIR RIGHTS.

ANY MEANINGFUL CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT MUST PROVIDE VICTIMS WITH AN
UNAMBIGIOUS GUARANTEE THAT THEY MAY PARTICIPATE IN THAT PROCESS. THIS
AMENDMENT SHOULD CODIFY THE RIGHTS THAT WE SHOULD GUARANTEE VICTIMS,
THE SAME WAY OUR CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES THE RIGHTS OF DEFENDANTS.
FURTHERMORE, A CAREFULLY DESIGNED AMENDMENT WOULD COMPLEMENT
SUCCESSFUL AMENDMENTS AND STATUTES ALREADY IN PLACE IN MANY STATES,
AND WHICH ARE UNDER CONSIDERATION IN MANY OTHERS.

I WOULD LIKE TO SUBMIT FOR YOUR REVIEW THE RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL AT OUR SUMMER MEETING HELD
LAST .MONTH IN ST. LOUIS WHICH DEMONSTRATES OUR SUPPORT FOR THE NEED
FOR ENHANCED VICTIM PARTICIPATION IN AND ACCESS TO THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM.



35-331 - 96 - 3



62



page 10 of 11

ALTHOUGH THE ASSOCIATION TOOK NO FORMAL POSITION ON THE MERITS OF A
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT RECOGNIZING CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS, I HAVE
SPOKEN WITH MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES WHO STRONGLY SUPPORT THE CONCEPT OF
SUCH AN AMENDMENT.

TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY HAVE ARTICULATED ANY RESERVATIONS ABOUT SUCH A
MEASURE, THEIR POTENTIAL CONCERNS TYPICALLY FALL INTO THREE
CATEGORIES. FIRST, THEY ARE CONCERNED THAT ANY AMENDMENT NOT CREATE A
PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION FOR DAMAGES AGAINST ANY PROSECUTOR OR OTHER
STATE OR LOCAL OFFICIAL WHO MAKES A GOOD-FAITH ATTEMPT TO COMPLY WITH
ITS PROVISIONS. SECOND, THEY ARE CONCERNED THAT ANY AMENDMENT NOT
GIVE VICTIMS ABSOLUTE VETO POWER OVER DISCRETIONARY DECISIONS
TYPICALLY LEFT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTORS, SUCH AS CHARGING
AND SENTENCING RECOMMENDATIONS. THIRD, THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE
EFFECT OF ANY FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON STATE CONSTITUTIONAL
AND STATUTORY PROVISIONS AFFORDING VICTIMS CERTAIN RIGHTS' IN THEIR
STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. TO THAT END, THE ASSOCIATION HAS



63

Page 11 of 11

APPOINTED A WORKING GROUP CHAIRED BY MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL JAY
NIXON TO ANALYZE THESE AND OTHER ISSUES. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING
THAT ANALYSIS WITH YOU. SPEAKING ONLY AS THE RHODE ISLAND ATTORNEY
GENERAL, I AM CONFIDENT THAT A MEANINGFUL AMENDMENT CAN BE DRAFTED TO
ADDRESS THESE CONCERNS AND LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU TO DO JUST



THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK HERE TODAY TO
SUPPORT THE NEED FOR ENHANCED VICTIM PARTICIPATION IN THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM. I WOULD BE HAPPY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT
HAVE. THANK YOU.



* •



attachments :



Excerpts from the Rhode Island Conetitution ,

Excerpts from Rhode Island General Law3 ,

Resolution of the National Aeeociation Of Attorneys General:

^Supporting the need for enhanced victim in and access to the

criminal justice system,
Biography of Rhode Island Attorney General Jeffrey B. Pine.



64



NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL

Adopted

Summer Meeting

June 9-12, 1996

St. Louis, Missouri

RESOLUTION

SUPPORTING THE NEED FOR ENHANCED VICTIM PARTICIPATION IN
AND ACCESS TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

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 financial loss, physical injury,
emotional trauma and significantly reduced quality of life; and

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

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

WHEREAS, twenty states already have amended their constitutions to provide for the rights
of victims in their state cnminal justice process; and

WHEREAS, a similar number of states currently have statutory provisions affording cnme
victims certain rights in the criminal justice system; and

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

WHEREAS, a number of states have similar laws requiring orders of restitution in cnminal
cases; and



65



WHEREAS, the National Association of Attorneys General has supported victims of crime
legislation smce 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 pnnciples of federalism and
for the hard won protections victims of crime 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;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL:

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

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

3. Authorizes 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 District Attorneys Association, victims' nghts groups and other
interested groups or organizations as necessary to accomplish its goals; and (c) if it is determined that
a constiaitional 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
appropriate entities.



66



OCEAN STATE

RPIODE ISLAiND MAJ^AL 79

CONSTITUTION

OF THE

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND

AND

PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS

PREAMBLE
WE, the people of the Stale of Rhode Island and Providence
Planutiotw. grateful to Almishty God for the civ-jl and n:ligjous
liberty which He hath so long permiUcd as to enjoy, and looking to
Him for a blesaing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the
same, unimpaired, tD juccccding generations, do ordain and establish
this Constitution of govemmcnL

ARTICLE I-

D«cJaratJon of Certain Coostitudonal Rights and Principles.

In order effectually to secure the religious and political freedom
esublished by our venerated ancestors, and to preserve the sajnc for
our posterity, we do declare that the essenual and unquestionable
rights and prindples hereinafter mentioned shall be cstabUihcd,
maintained, and pnescrved. and shall be of paramount obligadon in all
legislative, judicial and executive proceedings.

SECTION 1, In the words of the Father of his Country, wc declare
that "the basis of our political systems is the riglUuf the people u make
and alter their constitutions of government; but that the consutuuon
which at any dme exists, till changed by an explicit and autlicndc act
of the wbole people, is sacredly ooligatory upon all."

SEC. 2. All free governments ars instituted for the protccuon.
safety, and happintss of the people All the laws, tbcrefotr, should
be made for the good of the whole; and the burdens ofthe state ought
to be fairly distributed among its citizens. No person shall be deprived
of life, liberty or property without due process of law. nor shall any
person be denied tqual protection of the laws. No



67



OCEAN STATE

SO CONSTITUTION OF RHODE ISLAND

othcrwnsc qualified person ihaJl, solely by reason of race, gender or
handicap be subject Co discn'mination by the state, its agents or any
person or entity doing busincii with the state. Nothing in this section
shall be coivstrucd to grant or secure any right rrUting to abonion or
the funding thereof.

Sec. 3. Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all
attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by
civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness;
and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their
migration to this country and their setdc mcnt of this state, was, as they
expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil
state may stand and be best maintained with full !ib«rry in rcLigious
concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person shall be com-
pelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or
ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person's voluntary
contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in body or
goods; nor disqualified from holding any ofllcc; nor otherwise luffcr
on account of such person's religious belief; and that every person
shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such person' s
opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise
diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person.

Sec 4. Slavery shall not be permitted in this state.

Sec 5. Every person within this state ought to find a certain
remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs
which may be received in one' j pcnon, property, or character. Every
person ought to obtain right and justice freely, and without purchase.
completely and without denial; promptly and without delay; con-
formably to the Laws.

Sec 6. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers
and possessions, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated; and no warrant shall Issue, but on complaint in writing.
upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and describing
as nearly as may be, the place to be searched on d the persons or things
to be seized.



68



OCEAN STATE

RHODE ISLAND MANUAL 8 1

Sec 7. Except in cases o f impochment, or in cases arising in the
land or naval forcM. or in Che militia when in actual service in dmc of
war or public danger, no pcnon shall be held to answer for any offense
which is punishable by death or by imprisonment for life unless on
presentment or indictment by a grand jury, and no person shall be held
to ans wcr for any other felony M nJcss on presentment or i ndictmcnl by
a grand jury or on information in writing signed by the attorney-
general or one of the attomey-gcneral's designaxed assistants, as the
general assembly may provide and In accordance with procedures
enacted by the general assembly. The general assembly may author-
ize the impaneling of grand juries with authority to indict for offenses
commiaed any place within the stare andit may provide that more than
one grand jury may sic simultaneously within a county. No person
shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy.
Nothing contained in this article shall be construed as in anywise
impairing the inherent common law powers of the grand jury.

Sec. 8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines
Imposed, nor cruel punishments inflicted; and all punishments ought
lo be proportioned to the offense.

Sec 9. All persons imprisoned ought to be bailed by sufficienC
surety, unless for ofTenscs punishable by imprisonment for life, or for
offenses involving the use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon by
one already convicted of such an offense or already convicted of an
offense punishable by imprisonment for life, or for an offense involv-
ing the unlawful sale, distribution, manufacture, delivery, or poiscs-
sion with intent to manufacture, sell, distribute or deliver any con-
trolled substance or by possession of a controlled substance punish-
able by imprcisonment for ten (1 0) years or more, when the proof of
guilt is evident or the prcsumpuon greaL Nothing in this section shall
be construed to confer a righ' to bail, pending appeal of a conviction.
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when in cats of rcbelUon or invasion, the pubL'c safety shall



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 8 of 24)