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Elevation of Victims' Rights in Washington State: Constitutional Status

NCJ Number
Pepperdine Law Review Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: (1989) Pages: 19-33
K Eikenberry
Date Published
15 pages
After a brief review of the history of the victims' rights movement, this article discusses Washington State's current crime victims laws and its constitutional amendment guaranteeing victims' rights.
The historical review of the victims' rights movement encompasses the history of the victim's involvement in the criminal justice system and the emergence of the victims' rights movement. Washington State enacted the Crime Victim Compensation Program in 1973 and the crime victims' "Bill of Rights" in 1985. The compensation program is designed to provide innocent crime victims with medical services, payment for lost wages, lump-sum payments for permanent disabilities, and other services for injuries resulting from violent crime. The crime victims' "Bill of Rights" is intended to grant victims and survivors of crime a more significant role in the criminal justice system. Although such legislation is necessary, it is not sufficient to protect crime victims' interests, since statutory rights are only as secure as the political will of the State legislators. This prompted the Washington State legislature and citizenry to enact a State constitutional amendment that guarantees victims of felony crimes certain rights. The 1989 constitutional amendment guarantees felony victims the rights to be informed of court proceedings; to attend court proceedings subject to the judge's discretion; and to make a statement at sentencing and at proceedings in which the offender's release is under consideration. 73 footnotes


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