By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
If there’s one thing most Americans can agree on, is that its citizens and residents are the patriotic sort. Part of this streak of patriotism is performing one’s civic duty, which includes exercising one’s right to vote.
In a few short weeks, the Spring General Election will be upon Milwaukeeans. The election is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, April 7. While the ballot will include candidates for the Mayor, Milwaukee County Executive and others, there will also be some referendums.
Referendums are a way for voters to have their say on a matter that directly impacts them. Often times, however, referendums aren’t talked about and voters either find their uninformed on the matter or ignore them completely.
Come this April, there is a referendum on the ballot that cannot be ignored. Known as the Victims’ Rights Amendment or Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, this referendum has the potential to change Wisconsin.
Equal Rights for Wisconsin, the grassroots movement advocating for equal rights for victims of crimes, is the group behind Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin.
According to the group’s website, Marsy’s Law is name for Marsy Nicholas, a young woman who attended University of California Santa Barbara. Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. One day, shortly after visiting her daughter’s grave, Nicholas’s mother and brother went to the grocery store and ran into the accused murdered.
The Nicholas family was unaware that the accused has been released on bail. As was protocol, courts and law enforcement were not required to inform victim’s families that the accused has been released. But Marsy’s Law changed that.
According to the website, under the law, “Courts must consider the safety of victims and families when setting bail and release conditions. Family members have legal standings in bail hearings, sentencing and parole hearings.”
Marsy’s Law was passed in California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Wisconsin could be next, but its up to residents to decide.
Wisconsin and Milwaukee in particular are no strangers to crime. In recent months, there’s been several prominent cases of domestic abuse and gun violence exists throughout the city.
These crimes are issues that plague Milwaukee and unfortunately, they won’t disappear overnight. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part to make Milwaukee and by extension Wisconsin a safe place to live, work and raise a family.
In a place where tensions can run high, victims and their families deserve to feel safe and informed.
Marsy’s Law could be a part of that goal. So come election day, don’t forget to vote on the referendums. To learn more about
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin go to equalrightsforwi.com.
The Spring General Election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 7. Voters need a photo ID. To learn more about the ballot including absentee ballots and early voting go to myvote.wi.gov.