KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The week of April 18 to 24 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and Tennessee organizations are leading the charge to bring awareness and change to victims' rights in the state.
On Wednesday, Members of HOPE visited Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen's office to pin purple ribbons on the members and local law enforcement.
The organizations said people can wear purple or purple ribbons this week to honor victims of crime.
This year's theme is "Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities." Members of HOPE said the theme emphasizes the importance of leveraging community support to help victims of crime
The State Capitol and other landmarks, including the Henley Street pedestrian bridge in Knoxville and the Cumberland County Courthouse, are lit up purple at night this week.
The Tennessee Legislature on Wednesday was also poised to talk about a resolution amending the state constitution for the purpose of rewriting rights for crime victims.
The Criminal Justice Subcommittee is scheduled to hear House Joint Resolution 0044, which was introduced by Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) on January 15.
Known better as Marsy's Law, the resolution proposes amending the Tennessee Constitution to ensure the following rights of victims throughout the criminal justice system:
- The right to be treated with fairness for the victim's safety, dignity, and privacy
- The right, upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of, and to be present at, all criminal public proceedings and all juvenile delinquency proceedings involving the accused
- The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, and parole, as well as any public proceeding when relevant during which a right of the victim is implicated
- The right to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice system, including reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused
- The right, upon request, to reasonable notice of any release, transfer, or escape of the accused or convicted person
- The right to full and timely restitution from the offender
- The right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction or sentence
- The right, upon request, to confer with the prosecution
- The right to be fully informed of all rights afforded to crime victims
"The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for Marsy’s Law for Tennessee," Marsy's Law for Tennessee said. "A recent TBI report shows the violent crime rate soared in Memphis in 2020 compared to 2019 – up nearly 25 percent. Knoxville Police reported a 40 percent increase in shootings resulting in injury in 2020. And in Chattanooga, police said there has been a sharp increase in gun violence."