Marsy's Law explained

Image 1 of 10

It may be one of the few issues both gubernatorial candidates agree on, Marsy’s law.

Both Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp say they will vote “yes” on Amendment four. Opponents say it takes away due process of the accused.

Advocates say Marsy’s Law gives give crime victims a right to be notified when their attacker is released from jail or prison or escapes.

Kimya Motley survived a shooting at the hands of her ex-husband.

“The bullet entered my face here, it exited here. I was shot on the side of the neck,” said Motley.

A bullet is still lodged in her body.

She and others like Christy Simms, whose face was disfigured when her boyfriend threw acid on her, have emerged as voices for a state constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law.

Motley says passage would give crime victims a voice in the legal process, a right to speak before the judge in sentencing and a right to be notified of escape or release of the accused.

“Those are things that are really important for victims, to have a sense of closure to have a say so in the process,” said Motley.

Benita Dodd with the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, which believes in limited government, urges a no vote on Amendment Four.

“Victims are protected already. We don’t need to write these protections into the constitution,” said Dodd.

She said victims are protected with the Georgia Victims Bill of Rights. She has concerns over due process for the accused.

“These people are now going to an extra layer of victims’ protections and they haven’t not even been proven guilty,” said Dodd.

Gubernatorial candidates Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams both support Marsy’s law

“Fixing this is a bipartisan issue that Democrats and Republicans can all agree on,” said Kemp in a video.

In a statement Abrams said in part, the language for the amendment reflects a process that worked, addressing concerns of interested parties.

The amendment received bipartisan support by Georgia lawmakers to place it on the ballot.

Anna Casas who spearheaded Marsy’s Law in Georgia says since the 80s, 36 states have adopted similar constitutional protections.

“There were no ‘no’ votes and that was really kind of amazing especially in the political environment we are in,” said Casas.

The law is named for murder victim Marsy Nicholas in California whose deep pockets brother helped finance Marsy’s law measures in seven other states including Georgia.

“I think that’s a laudable thing that someone is willing to put their own personal money behind helping victims at other places that they don’t even know,” said Casas.

Critics maintain Marsy’s law amounts to writing a constitutional amendment based on emotions as opposed to due process.

Advocates say it sets one standard for protection of victims statewide.

It’s now up to the voters to decide.