Marsy’s Law for Tennessee, a law designed to strengthen the rights of crime victims in Tennessee’s State Constitution, is being postponed for now due to the abbreviated legislative session in response to COVID-19.
“We are very disappointed, but it became clear that there is simply not enough time to successfully clear all of the steps in both the House and Senate needed for passage this year,” said Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, the prime sponsor of the legislation in the Tennessee House. “But the need is clear. Crime victims are counting on us. We look forward to beginning again when the next legislature convenes in January.”
“This is one of many important issues that will unfortunately have to be delayed for now as the General Assembly works to quickly address important budget items and other COVID-related issues before adjourning for the year,” said Senator John Stevens, the prime sponsor in the Tennessee Senate. “We are grateful to our legislative colleagues, to local law enforcement, and especially to the crime victims and their family members who have underscored the importance of this legislation and protecting victim rights.”
More than 20 years ago, 89 percent of Tennesseans voted to give crime victims the rights they deserve by adopting a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. But victims have found these rights to be unenforceable under current law and the rights of victims are not always protected.
Marsy’s Law for Tennessee would strengthen the rights of crime victims in Tennessee’s state constitution. Senate Joint Resolution 885 and House Joint Resolution 822 sought to ensure that victims of crime have equal, constitutional rights on the same level as those accused and convicted of crimes.
Senator John Stevens of Huntingdon and Rep. Patsy Hazlewood were primary sponsors of the bill, with Lt. Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Cameron Sexton acting as prime co-sponsors. The resolutions had broad, bipartisan support that included co-sponsors Senator Janice Bowling, Rep. William Lamberth, Rep. Jeremy Faison, Rep. Gary Hicks, Rep. John Mark Windle, Rep. Curtis Johnson, Rep. Harold Love, Rep. Ron Gant, Rep. Andrew Farmer, Rep. Brandon Ogles, Rep. Bruce Griffey, and Rep. Mike Carter.