It’s Been One Year. Has the Georgia Victims’ Rights Notification Card Helped Victims?
Crime victim advocates have been diligent in their quest to ensure all victims are informed of their rights since the Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights was enacted in 1995. In 2018, Marsy’s Law passed with 80% support ensuring these rights are constitutionally protected and enforced.
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. On October 1, 2020, Marsy’s Law for Georgia and the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council (PAC) of Georgia partnered to create the Georgia Crime Victim’s Rights Notification card. Since the state of Georgia does not have a centralized state-wide notification system and resources vary across local jurisdictions, Marsy’s Law and PAC decided to create one comprehensive and customizable card for law enforcement, prosecutors, and victims’ services organizations to present to crime victims. The customizable notification card was designed to help victims better understand their rights while also listing the local resources available to assist them in navigating their case.
The notification card was an important step in improving victims’ knowledge around their rights, providing a simple yet effective tool for law enforcement, prosecutors, and other victims’ services organizations to use throughout Georgia’s 159 counties. With numerous agencies and organizations connecting with crime victims across jurisdictions, the wallet-sized notification card can help bridge any notification gaps that may occur as crime victims navigate through the complexities of the criminal justice system.
While the notification card requires empathy, compassion, and a human touch, which can be healing following a traumatic event, the drawback is also the possibility of human error. Miscommunication or a missed notification about the release of an attacker can prove deadly to victims if they are uninformed and unaware of the potential danger facing them.
Ideally, the next step in the evolution of improving victims’ rights would be a statewide, automated notification system that a crime victim or family of a crime victim can easily opt into once to receive all communications involving their case in a timely and efficient manner. Until then, we celebrate the Georgia Victims’ Rights Notification Card’s one-year anniversary and commend our Victim Witness Assistance Programs in local prosecutors’ offices for their notification efforts and their continued work toward ensuring all victims are aware of their rights and connected to the resources necessary for beginning the healing process following a traumatic event.
- Pete Skandalakis, Prosecuting Attorney's Council of Georgia Executive Director