Rep. Mike Harris this week voted to protect and strengthen the rights of crime victims in Michigan’s justice system.
“Crime victims should be heard and supported every step of the way as they reclaim their lives and navigate the judicial system,” said Harris, a former Waterford Township police sergeant. “A quarter century in law enforcement taught me the importance of standing up for the vulnerable and giving voice to the voiceless. These changes to state law would do exactly that.”
The plan approved by the Michigan House of Representatives helps ensure survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault are connected with confidential support services in their communities. Other measures would update the state’s Crime Victim’s Rights Act to include crime classifications not previously included – ensuring rights are protected in these types of cases. These rights include the right to consultation with the prosecutor and discussion of any potential plea agreement before such an agreement is finalized.
The House-approved reforms also reflect the increased use of remote technology, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Victim impact statements could be delivered remotely, allowing victims to avoid being in the courtroom with their assailants right before the judge issues a sentence. Another measure in the package ensures a victim’s image can be protected from public disclosure when the court proceedings are conducted through internet streaming or other online platforms.
House Bills 5679-81 and 5560 now advance to the Senate for further consideration.
“The Michigan State Police conducts criminal background checks to help protect the most vulnerable Michiganders of all ages, but the system needs updating for our state to continue facilitating this resource,” Harris said.
“Michigan government should be open and accountable to the people it serves, but our state has consistently lagged behind in basic, fundamental government transparency,” said Harris, R-Waterford.
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