‘Mapping exercise’ outlines crime victims’ rights under Marsy’s Law

Marsy's Law for Wisconsin met with state officials to improve the criminal justice process for crime victims
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 6:43 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2022 at 5:18 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin is teaming up with the Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice for an exercise on how the law impacts the criminal justice system.

“This is an opportunity to try and figure out where any problems are, or where there are things we need to be talking about more. And for all the different players to get a good view of what’s happening in the parts they are not involved with,” said Winnebago County District Attorney Eric Sparr.

An opportunity that brought about 30 individuals together on Friday to participate in a mapping exercise, where they followed the path of the victim from the moment they call law enforcement to post-sentencing proceedings.

“I think there have been some situations where people became aware of something that they’re not directly involved with and they didn’t realize it was happening, or they didn’t realize it was happening in that way. It’s at least encouraged them to be thinking about those other options and decide what the best practice is,” Sparr said.

The goal was to find out what has been working since Marsy’s Law went into effect more than two years ago, and what could be improved.

“I, just like many other victims of domestic violence, often walk amongst us unseen,” said Nela Kalpic, director of outreach, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin.

As a domestic abuse survivor herself, Nela Kalpic says she knows firsthand the importance of understanding the help that the criminal justice process offers to victims of domestic violence.

“Knowing that the rights that are reported under Marsy’s Law are there for us to ensure that we do have a stronger voice throughout the process matters,” Kalpic said.

After the success the agencies saw during the mapping exercise, they hope other counties will follow suit.

“The rights upheld by Marsy’s Law are crucial to giving victims a voice and getting them involved in the court process, which ultimately leads to justice being served for all. I think it’s a great thing for other counties to do because it’s one of those things that we don’t take the time for and often these conversations don’t happen if they’re not prompted by something like this,” Sparr said.

Marsy’s Law is a crime victims’ rights amendment to the state constitution. It was ratified during the April 7, 2020 election.

The law is named Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California. She was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Marsy’s mother and brother were confronted in a grocery store by Marsy’s accused killer. They had been unaware that he had been released on bail. The family made it their mission to ensure victims had rights and constitutional protections.

Many victims of crime say they feel unseen and unheard. State officials met to improve the criminal justice process.