The official website of the Amendment 6 campaign in Florida contained a white-and-purple layout, full of statements from local politicians and filmed testimony from crime victims, who said that their personal tragedies could have been prevented by the proposed legislation. The website was identical to others supporting Amendment 4 in Georgia, question 1 in Nevada and state question 794 in Oklahoma.
The campaigns are all fed back to the website for Marsy's Law for All, a non-profit organization that leads the movement around the rights of victims. It recruits and finances local efforts to incorporate Marsy's law, a controversial set of protection for crime victims, into state constitutions.
Six states had Marsy's amendments to their votes on Tuesday, all of which were adopted. Five of these states will now change their constitutions to include proposed changes that critics claim to be too broad and harmful.
Marsy's law includes a number of provisions based on the idea that victims must have equal rights to those of the suspect in criminal proceedings. This also means that victims are informed of procedures involving their case and the release or escape of the accused; to be heard on pleadings or conviction hearings; reasonable accusation of the accused and to have a guarantee of a meaningful role in the criminal justice system.
Critics say that protection hampers the legal system by their vague wording, while undermining the fair trial by defending the rights of defendants, who are meant to protect suspects against the state, from those of victims. In particular, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes Marsy's law and calls it & # 39; badly drafted & # 39; and & # 39; a threat to existing constitutional rights.
Marsy's Law for All, National Communications Adviser, Henry Goodwin, told VOA News that he had never heard a good example of the rights of a victim undermining the rights of a suspect.
"The legal system is very adept at balancing rights within the system," Goodwin said. & # 39; You know, the rights of the victim defended by Marsy's law are complementary to the rights of suspects, we do not try to undermine or eliminate any suspects, it is not a zero-sum game. & # 39;
Marsy's Law for All was founded in 2009 by Dr. Henry Nicholas, a former CEO of Broadcom who was recently estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $ 3 billion. Marsy's Law is named after his sister Marsalee, who was shot dead in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend.
After successfully running a 2008 campaign to bring Marsy's law to California, Nicholas decided to form a national organization with the goal of bringing the changes to all 50 states and eventually to the US Constitution. Since then, the laws of Marsy have been taken over in Illinois, the Dakotas and Ohio.
The movement, at state and national level, is financed by Nicholas' personal wealth. The six campaigns in support of Marsy's Law in November all received the vast majority of their money, either directly from Nicholas or from Marsy's Law for All, which Goodwin confirmed to VOA News to be fully funded by Nicholas. In total, the six campaigns collected a war chest of $ 60 million. About $ 30 million was only spent in Florida.