Whitmer signs Crime Victims Bill of Rights legislation
Michigan legislation known as the “Crime Victims Bill of Rights” was signed into law Monday.
The four-bill package gives law enforcement the power to share contact information for domestic- and sexual violence survivors with qualified service providers.
Sharman Davenport is the president and CEO of the Mount Clemens-based support agency, Turning Point.
She said the new laws help give survivors more access to the justice system.
“As a first-response and survivor advocate, we know that having someone who gets it and can help can make all the difference in the life of a survivor in getting their needs met and having the opportunity to take a legal stand,” Davenport said.
Some concerns arose during legislative debate about whether law enforcement should receive permission from survivors first, before sharing their contact information with resources.
But sponsors said the practice of sharing information is already occurring in some areas.
Representative Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) sponsored the bill. She said those agencies are already receiving government grants to work with survivors, and there are address-confidentiality laws in place.
“We’re not just giving this information out willy-nilly to whoever,” Rogers said.
The new laws also let victims of a crime testify remotely, and have their images blurred during court proceedings.
Representative Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) said that change might make the most immediate difference.
“Right now, there are victims and witnesses out there who are teetering about whether they’re going to testify about the crime that was committed towards them or somebody else. And this is going to be the push, the shove that says, ‘I can do this, I’m protected, I’ll stand up for myself or for someone else who was a victim of crime,’” Filler said after the bill signing.
A fourth bill in the package, sponsored by Filler, would add more crimes to the state’s definition of a “serious misdemeanor.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer said, collectively, the new laws provide necessary support to survivors of crime.
“I think these bills will help our prosecutors, will help our crime victim advocates, and most importantly, help victims of crimes become survivors and to be able to thrive. And I think there’s real value in all of these,” Whitmer said.
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