Right now, accused criminals have the constitutional protections of due process and what are commonly referred to as “Miranda Rights.” Our system has set up layers of protections for those accused of a crime. While the rights of the accused are clear, the rights of victims are not.

That’s an inequity we should all be concerned about.

Victims of crime are joined together by one tragic fact: their lives have been changed forever because of someone else’s actions against them. Victims of crime also are joined together by the sense of injustice and unfairness they encounter when they realize their rights are inferior to those of the person who caused them harm. Unlike most states, crime victims in Maine have fewer rights than their accused, are not viewed equally within the criminal justice system, and their rights are not guaranteed or enforceable.

Our work in state government should be clearly focused. We should be looking for ways every day to improve our economy and strengthen our communities. We shouldn’t be looking to expand government and further intrude into people’s lives — our purpose should be to look for ways to improve our laws and make Maine a better place overall.

That’s why I support the passage of Marsy’s Law, a common-sense improvement in Maine law that will finally give crime victims the same rights as accused criminals.

Marsy’s Law for Maine would elevate the rights of those affected by crime to a level that is equal to the offenders who harmed them. It will make sure victims have a right to be notified about the release of the accused, and the right to be heard at hearings and proceedings in their cases. It would help innocent victims navigate the complicated criminal justice system that for so long has not adequately protected their rights.


Advocates for Marsy’s Law have shared tragic stories of victims and their families and their struggles with the legal system. It’s heartbreaking to imagine watching one of your family members become the victim of a crime; it’s even more heartbreaking to imagine them stuck in the morass of an unfair system that leaves them without the information they need, while the perpetrators of the crimes against them are so solidly protected.

Through the legislative process, Marsy’s Law has been adapted and improved to fit Maine’s unique needs. The safety of victims and their families will be considered in setting bail and release conditions, and victims will have the right to be notified about requests for access to information pertaining to them. These are positive additions to the bill that further protect victims and make the bill better for Maine.

I greatly appreciate the input from key victims’ advocates on these improvements.

We are fortunate in Maine that our professional victims’ advocates work tirelessly to make sure victims have an ally when they find themselves in the labyrinth of court procedures for the first time. However, the time has come to increase the protections we offer to those affected by the unjust actions of others. It is time we make these protections constitutional. Marsy’s Law for Maine will level the playing field to make sure that the accused and the convicted, and the innocent victims affected by their actions, have equal rights.

I am proud to join the large coalition that has already come together in support of Marsy’s Law for Maine — including law enforcement leaders, members of Maine’s faith community, community leaders, victims and victims’ advocacy and support organizations, and thousands of Maine people.

This is the kind of work we should be doing in Augusta. As lawmakers, we should be dedicated to making sure our laws are fair, and that the work we do will improve our state and strengthen our communities.

In the coming months, the legislature will decide whether Marsy’s Law for Maine earns a spot on the ballot in November 2018. I believe strongly that crime victims deserve equal rights that are guaranteed, enforceable and recognized at the highest levels. That is why I support Marsy’s Law.

Sen. Michael Thibodeau, R-Waldo, is the Maine Senate president.

Michael Thibodeau

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