Fears of COVID-19 virus spreading through jails and prisons has led to inmates being released before their sentence is complete. The Des Moines Register reported that several counties in Iowa are relaxing their arrest guidelines. The ACLU applauds this, noting that there’s no way for prisoners and convicts to practice social distancing inside jails and prisons. However, one Iowa group is speaking up for the crime victims. Marsy’s Law for Iowa has sent out a letter to county attorneys and sheriffs calling on them to notify the crime victims of the inmates’ release.
In Iowa, currently, crime victims do not have equal and enforceable rights in the state’s constitution. In the letter, they request that every effort be made to notify crime victims of the inmates’ release.
“We’re grateful for the lengths that law enforcement from across the state are going to in order to keep our communities safe during this pandemic,” said Eric Baker of Marsy’s Law for Iowa. “We also recognize that during these stressful times, it’s more important than ever for victims to be informed on the status of their offender. Their safety depends on it.”
Marcy’s Law for Iowa is a grassroots coalition of crime victims advocates and members of law enforcement advocating for equal rights in Iowa’s state constitution. Marcy’s Law was named after a woman named Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and murdered in 1983. Marsy’s Law for Iowa is part of the National Marsy’s Law for All organization. The group headed and funded by the California Billionaire Dr. Henry Nicholas, Marsy’s brother.
Editor’s note: The author worked previously for Marsy’s Law for All from 2017-2019.