Dear Editor: As the executive director of UNIDOS, I work directly with survivors whose challenges are exacerbated by language, immigration status and culture. During this pandemic, it has been evident that many survivors face challenges in accessing the systems in place to protect victims of crimes. It is essential that advocates have the tools needed to empower these survivors to become the best advocates for themselves.
Last April, the residents of Wisconsin overwhelmingly approved a new constitutional amendment. Known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, this amendment provided strong, enforceable rights for victims of crime.
In my 11 years at UNIDOS, I could not ensure survivors a path to being truly heard until after the new constitutional amendment went into effect. Only with Marsy's Law did I have the tools to empower a victim I worked with to take charge: "I don't want what happened to me to happen to another woman, and I want to do something about it," she said. With this, we embarked on the path of resolution and justice for her, thanks to Marsy's Law.
If we want to empower victims to become more active participants in the criminal justice process, we must be intentional about it and center their voices at the table. We must give them the tools they need to succeed by providing strong victims' rights that empower victims and promote self-determination and self-advocacy. With Marsy's Law for Wisconsin in place, we now have more tools than ever to strengthen survivors while holding systems accountable.
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