The issue of federal constitutional protection of victims' rights was first raised in the landmark President's Task Force on Victims of Crime Final Report published in 1982. Its authors proposed augmenting the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to include that ". . . the victim, in every criminal prosecution, shall have the right to be present and to be heard at all critical stages of judicial proceedings."
As of November 5, 1996, 29 states have amended their constitutions to guarantee an array of rights for victims, including notification, participation, protection and input. A handful of states apply these constitutional rights to victims of juvenile, as well as adult, offenders.
In April 1996, a Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendment was introduced by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). In June of 1996, President Clinton endorsed the concept of a Federal Constitutional Amendment for Crime Victims' Rights in a special ceremony held at the White House.
The Federal Victims' Rights Constitutional Amendment has received strong bipartisan support. It was endorsed in both national political parties' platforms and by both presidential candidates in 1996. The federal amendment -- which was re-introduced in the 105th Congress in January 1997 -- has broad support from organizations representing national, state and local victim services, law enforcement, criminal justice, and community and institutional corrections.
For additional information, contact your elected representative.
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|YEAR PASSED||ELECTORAL SUPPORT|
|RHODE ISLAND||Passed by Constitutional Convention|