I was made aware that recently a letter to your paper was published regarding Marsy’s Law and my position of not bringing it up for a vote in committee. I prepared a short reply to that letter with more facts than were offered. I would appreciate you including this statement in your paper so that readers can have more information and hopefully a better understanding of what we currently have in Mississippi and what Marsy’s Law is.
In my role as chairman of the Constitution Committee in the Mississippi State Senate, I’d like to explain my position for not advancing Marsy’s Law which is a constitutional protection for crime victims that have been proposed and adopted in some states. At first glance, Marsy’s Law seems like a good and reasonable proposal for Mississippi to adopt. It’s to protect the rights of victims who have experienced a horrific crime against their loved one. Who would not be for that proposal? The good news is that Mississippi already has provisions in our constitution and in our state law that protect victims from these tragic circumstances. I am for victims’ rights, I agree wholeheartedly that their voices should be heard and I respect the leaders who are asking that we bring this proposal forward. I understand that it would be more popular for me politically to proceed and push this proposal through, but after exhaustively researching this issue for the past two years I am convinced that we already have these protections in place here in Mississippi. If you read Article 26A of our state’s constitution and in the Mississippi Code, Section 99-35-5, you will find these protections are clearly outlined. In addition, the Attorney General’s office has a bureau dedicated solely to victim assistance. For years, they have been helping our citizens who are victims of crimes navigate through our justice system, providing support to our families. Another flaw in Marsy’s law is that there are provisions included that contradict the United States constitution. This causes confusion for prosecutors and law enforcement working these cases, wasting time and valuable resources. In fact, the Montana Supreme Court found Marsy’s law unconstitutional and void in its entirety after that state adopted the measure. Our criminal justice system is far from perfect and I am open to ideas that protect victims and their families. In this instance, Marsy’s law is not providing any new protections for victims that do not already exist in Mississippi. Thank you for allowing me to share my perspective with you.
Republican Chris Johnson has represented Senate District 45, which includes Forrest and Perry counties, since 2020. He served in the state House of Representatives from 2016-2019. In addition to his role as the chair of the Senate Constitution Committee, he is the vice chair of the Finance Committee. Contact his Capitol office at 601-359-4088.