Ohio victims are pushing for legislation that would give crime victims the right to be notified on all proceedings involving their offenders, including their release or escape from prison.
The proposed amendment is called Marsy’s Law for Ohio and has been submitted for approval to be on the ballot in November.
Rights also include notice of all public proceedings involving the offender and the right to be heard in public proceedings including release, plea and sentencing.
Elyria victim Dana Smith had her home badly damaged after her neighbor Trista Mussell, 32, told police she intentionally set fire to the apartment complex.
Smith was shocked to learn that she would not be automatically notified about Mussell’s bond, release from jail or any major court proceedings.
Instead, she said she’s been calling the courts and checking online everyday.
“I shouldn’t have to do things like that and go out of my way to make sure we’re safe today,” Smith said.
She and her two young sons are still trying to rebuild after they lost many of their possessions in the fire.
Linda Johanek, CEO of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, told News 5 Smith’s story is not rare.
“What are the major gaps when it come to victim rights?” Johanek said. “Victim notification is at the top.”
Johanek said the current system requires victims to register and then make the effort to regularly check the database.
“It really is put on them that they have the responsibility to do the follow up,” she explained.
Johanek said the Marsy’s Law of Ohio would make it much easier for victims to stay up to date.
If approved, supporters would need to gather at least 305,591 signatures for the issue to appear on the November ballot.