FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT: Roberta Roper/Russell Butler 301-952-0063
June 24, 2014
NEW LAWS TO BENEFIT CRIME VICTIMS TAKE EFFECT JULY 1, 2014
Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. (MCVRC) is pleased to announce that two of its 2014 legislative priorities will become law on July 1, 2014. Those laws are:
- Crime Victim and Crime Victim’s Representative – Electronic Notification (SB 922), and
- Criminal Procedure – Programs for Survivors of Homicide Victims ((HB 355)
Crime Victim and Crime Victim’s Representative – Electronic Notification
This law expands Maryland’s notification requirements for victims of crime and their representatives. Under existing law, victims of certain Circuit Court cases receive notice of hearings via the U.S. Postal Service. Under the new law, victims and victim’s representatives in jurisdictions using the upgraded Maryland Electronic Court System (MDEC), will be able to request and receive notice of hearings by email. In October 2014, Anne Arundel County will be the first jurisdiction to implement the MDEC.
MCVRC Executive Director, Russell P. Butler stated that:
For too long, many victims have not received timely notice of court hearings requiring them to miss work when hearings have been continued. Timely notice of hearings by email will provide a better opportunity for access to justice by victims.
Notification regarding hearings is a key element so that victims can assert their other rights including the right to be present, the right to be heard, and the right to receive restitution.
Criminal Procedure – Programs for Survivors of Homicide Victims.
This law creates infrastructure and funding authorizations to assist family members of homicide victims.
The Maryland General Assembly found that:
“[S]urvivors of homicide victims in the State:
(1) lack necessary counseling and follow–up services to:
(i) treat the survivors with dignity, respect, and sensitivity; and
(ii) inform the survivors of the rights to which they are entitled by law; and
(2) have the help of only extremely limited support services in some parts of the State.”
The new law requires the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to help establish and expand programs available to the families of homicide victims. Services include, but are not limited to counseling, legal, mental health, and advocacy.
MCVRC Founder and Board Chair, Roberta Roper stated:
Families of homicide victims have been the long forgotten step-children in Maryland’s array of victim service programs. There has never been dedicated funding to provide support, legal and therapeutic services to families of homicide victims. As a result, many survivors of homicide victims are left to endure on their own without any sense of hope and healing.
Of the many lessons learned over MCVRC’s thirty-two history, one of the most important is that crime does not discriminate. It’s direct and indirect consequence impact every segment of society: from babies to senior citizens of every culture, ethnicity and economic status. However, for those who are marginalized by other factors such as poverty; or physical or geographic limitations, the needs are equally great and deserving.
With the enactment of this new law, there is a first-time opportunity to offer restorative services to individuals and families who are struggling with the trauma, grief, and other needs occurring as a result of homicides.
For more information on MCVRC legislative initiatives, please visit our website at https://www.mdcrimevictims.org/laws-and-policies/history-of-crime-victims-rights-in-maryland/. MCVRC is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to victims and victims’ representatives. For help, please contact us.