Last week was National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and we observed it at the Capitol. Weeks like these really hit home for me.
The House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 1009, which honors the men, women and children who have been victimized in the state of Oklahoma and the strength they exhibit as they work to overcome adversity.
According to recently released statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oklahoma experienced 16,506 violent crimes in 2015, including 234 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 1,849 reports of rape, 3,005 robberies and 11,418 aggravated assaults.
The victims of these crimes and their families deserve equal rights in our justice system. This week creates awareness for victims and lets them know we hear and remember their cause; we stand with them; we will treat them with fairness and respect.
As most of you remember, a Duncan family suffered an unimaginable tragedy in 2013 when their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa Wiles was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend. The loss was felt throughout the community. The Wiles family has been coming to the Capitol for years now to advocate against dating violence, and we were able to honor them on April 3.
This family is the epitome of love, resilience, strength and justice. Along with Rep. Scott Biggs, I presented a citation to the Wiles family recognizing their efforts to end dating violence. The Wiles' created a program called Always Date Without Violence. It is an incredible tool that teaches young men and women to look for signs of abuse before relationships turn violent in hopes of preventing another tragic death. The family tours schools across the state with this message. While their loss is great, the Wiles family steadfastly uses their loss and grief for an extraordinary purpose, and the citation they received on the House floor is a drop in the bucket of the recognition they deserve.
Earlier this session, we passed a number of bills that will help victims receive rights and protections co-equal to those provided to those accused and convicted of crimes. Many have been part of a package of bills called Marsy’s Law. On April 4, the House approved a Senate Joint Resolution to put crime victims’ rights into the state constitution. It passed unanimously, and now voters will get to cast their ballot on the measure in November 2018.
The Marsy’s Law movement is part of a nationwide push named after a California woman named Marsy who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. I’m thankful the House voted in lockstep to give Oklahomans an opportunity to enshrine strengthened victims’ rights into the constitution.
We’re coming up on the deadline for Senate bills to leave the House floor in the next few weeks. If you feel strongly about certain measures or policy proposals, please get in touch with me. As always, you can email me at Marcus.McEntire@okhouse.gov, and you can call my office at (405) 557-7327. Thank you, and God bless.