Missoula County Attorney Adds Staff To Comply With ‘Marsy’s Law’ Constitutional Amendment
Recently KGVO News reported that Marsy's Law will go into effect on July 1. The constitutional amendment was approved by voters in November 2016.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the state are preparing for the implementation of Marsy's Law with requests to add staff to become compliant, but the Missoula County Attorney's office has been proactive in its preparation, according to Chief Prosecutor Kirsten Pabst.
"We've actually been working on implementing the changes provided within Marsy's Law for several months now," Pabst said. "In fact, we have added staff already and they're up and running so that we can be in compliance with it when it goes into effect on July 1st. We've got two new victim witness coordinators, bringing our total up to three. We also work in conjunction with the crime victims advocate's office, who is assuming some of that workload, as well."
Pabst said county attorney offices have been adding staff because the number of victims and others related to a specific incident that will require services will also increase.
"In large part, the definitions have changed and clarified, so that the scope of who qualifies for victims service has broadened substantially," she said. "Anyone who has been aggrieved by a crime can be recognized as a victim, and once that happens they are entitled to all those same services, such as notification of all events, and participation in all components of the trial process."
According to the Missoula County Communications Office, the county attorney office's cost for complying with Marsy's Law is $99,145 for two victim witness coordinators.
Under Marsy’s Law, victims of violent crime must by law be treated with respect and dignity by the criminal justice system. Courts must consider the safety of victims and families when setting bail and release conditions. Family members have legal standing in bail hearings, pleas, sentencing, and parole hearings.