Victims' right to participate in his or her case's trial hearing is acknowledged by President Bill Clinton in his plan to ammend the constitution to give victim's rights a fair consideration during a trial.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and let me thank you all for being here. Thank you, Senator Kyl and Senator Feinstein, for your ground-breaking work here. Thank you, Senator Exon; my longtime friend Senator Heflin. Thank you, Congressman Frost, Congressman Stupak, Congressman Orton.
I thank all the representatives here of the victims community, the law enforcement community. I thank the Attorney General and John Schmidt and Aileen Adams and Bonnie Campbell for doing such a fine job at the Justice Department on all criminal justice issues. I thank the Vice President and, especially, I want to thank Roberta Roper and the other members of the National Movement for Victims' Advocacy. Mr. Roper, thank you for coming. Thank you, John and Pat Byron; thank you, Mark Klaas; and thank you, Pam McClain. And especially, John Walsh, thank you for spending all of these years to bring these issues to America's attention. Thank you, sir.
I'd also like to say a special word of thanks to the person who did more than any other person in the United States to talk me through all the legal and practical matters that have to be resolved in order for the President to advocate amending our Constitution: former prosecutor and a former colleague of mine, Governor Bob Miller of Nevada. Thank you, sir, for your work here.
For years, we have worked to make our criminal justice system more effective, more fair, more even-handed, more vigilant in the protection of the innocent. Today, the system bends over backwards to protect those who may be innocent, and that is as it should be. But it too often ignores the millions and millions of people who are completely innocent because they're victims, and that is wrong. That is what we are trying to correct today.
When someone is a victim, he or she should be at the center of the criminal justice process, not on the outside looking in. Participation in all forms of government is the essence of democracy. Victims should be guaranteed the right to participate in proceedings related to crimes committed against them. People accused of crimes have explicit constitutional rights. Ordinary citizens have a constitutional right to participate in criminal trials by serving on a jury. The press has a constitutional right to attend trials. All of this is as it should be. It is only the victims of crime who have no constitutional right to participate, and that is not the way it should be.
Having carefully studied all the alternatives, I am now convinced that the only way to fully safeguard the rights of victims in America is to amend our Constitution and guarantee these basic rights: to be told about public court proceedings and to attend them; to make a statement to the court about bail, about sentencing, about accepting a plea if the victim is present; to be told about parole hearings to attend and to speak; notice when the defendant or convict escapes or is released; restitution from the defendant; reasonable protection from the defendant; and notice of these rights.
If you have ever been a victim of a violent crime
U.S. Senator Robert La Follette decries the spirit of censorship that had swept through the nation since its entry into World War 1, and makes a lengthy and impassioned case for the upholding of the right to free speech, a right that he believed was incumbent upon the government to grant in a time of peace, but even more so, in a time of war.0 people like this