Victims

CSG Midwest
As she’s worked on policies to improve how her state handles sexual assault investigations and helps victims, Nebraska Sen. Kate Bolz has talked to advocacy groups and consulted with experts. But she also has in her mind a constituent, a survivor who approached her after a town-hall meeting.
“She was so young and had been so hurt by her circumstance,” Bolz says, “and she talked about the kind of support and information she needed.”
“Over the past couple of years,” she adds, “we’ve heard a lot from survivors.”
The same likely can be said for legislators across the Midwest, as evidenced by statistics on the prevalence of sexual assault and the burst of activity in state capitols. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every 98 seconds. And more than 20 percent of women report having been a victim of rape (either attempted or completed) during their lifetimes, federal data show.
States have explored various ways to improve their policies around sexual assault, and the result has been several new laws that aim to help victims and improve investigations of the crime, particularly through a better handling of sexual assault kits. Here is a look at some of the strategies being proposed and implemented in the Midwest.
CSG Midwest
By 2022, every hospital emergency room in Illinois must have staff that can provide specialized care to victims of sexual assault. This new requirement is the result of HB 5245, a bill passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed into law this summer. Under the law, a trained provider will have to be present in the emergency room within 90 minutes of the patient arriving in the hospital. According to the Illinois attorney general’s office, few hospitals currently provide specialized care for sexual assault victims.
CSG Midwest
Ohio has become the latest state in the Midwest to change its constitution with a goal of improving the rights of crime victims.
CSG Midwest
In 1980, Wisconsin became the first U.S. state to establish a statutory bill of rights for crime victims. Since then, state constitutions across the country have been amended to provide an even greater level of protections to this group of citizens.
Most recently, voters in North Dakota (62 percent to 38 percent) and South Dakota (60 percent to 40 percent) approved November ballot measures to amend their constitutions. These new provisions to protect crime victims are part of a national movement and are collectively known as “Marsy’s Law.”

In a three-page per curiam (unauthored) opinion in Bosse v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court reversed the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision to allow victims’ relatives to recommend to the jury that they sentence a defendant to death. Shaun Michael Bosse killed Katrina Griffin and her two children.

In Booth v. Maryland (1987) the Supreme Court held that during sentencing capital juries could only hear victim impact evidence that relates directly to the circumstances of the crime. Four years later in Payne v. Tennessee the Court changed course holding that capital juries could hear evidence relating to the personal characteristics of the victim and the emotional impact of the crime on the victim’s family.

CSG Midwest

Ohio has become the latest Midwestern state to adopt a “Safe at Home” law, which allows the survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and other violent crimes to shield their home addresses from public records. Under HB 359, which took effect in September, these crime victims can get a P.O. Box assigned to them by the secretary of state.

Michigan enacted domestic violence legislation May 3 that adds companion animals to personal protection orders, making it the latest state to acknowledge the role pets play in domestic violence situations. Currently, 29 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws with provisions that allow pets to be included in personal protection orders.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments will work with States and with their federal counterparts—at the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of State—to combat human trafficking; and

The Act establishes crime victim address protection program for victims of domestic violence and abuse, stalking, and felony sexual offenses. It allows crime victims to use an address provided by the Secretary of State in lieu of the person's actual physical address and allows program participants to vote by mail-in absentee ballot.

The Act allows non-violent crimes committed by victims of human trafficking to be expunged. Victims charged with non-violent offenses may make a motion in the court to expunge the offense after 60 days of being charged. If the court finds that the offense occurred because the individual was a victim of human trafficking the charges may be dismissed with prejudice.

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