Like the author of a letter in Saturday's Herald, I am a victim of crime. I lost my son to murder in 1993. Also, I'm a victim's rights advocate and share much of the letter writer's feeling when it comes to plea bargaining. The author mentioned a Victim's Bill of Rights being established through ballot initiative here in Washington state. Currently, our state does have such a provision in its constitution, specifically Section 35, entitled Victims of Crimes - Rights. Also a federal U.S. Criminal Rights Act was enacted in 2004 which in part gives the victim, under article 4, "The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing or any parole hearing." However, the U.S. Constitution doesn't have any crime victim's rights and trumps any state's constitutional provision or federal statute. This is what is truly needed, a U.S. Constitutional Amendment giving crime victims rights as currently no such victims rights are in it. This can be corrected if the citizens of Washington will support HJR106 calling for passage of a Crime Victims Rights Constitutional Amendment introduced in the House of Representatives in April of 2012. As a crime victim and supporter of a victim's rights, I believe a constitutional amendment this is the only way victims will have a standing that is guaranteed.
Ralph L. Myers