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Legislature sends bills to governor to protect crime victims

Nicole Beverly
Stateside Staff
Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in Lansing are focused on giving some crime victims more rights and protections.

Governor Rick Snyder will have to decide if convicted criminals should be required to listen to their victims in court. The legislation, on its way to his desk, is in response to a defendant who was convicted of killing a woman – but who left the courtroom during the family’s statements.

“For me, it’s a matter of putting victims first,” said bill sponsor Holly Hughes, R-Montague. “Putting humanity first is the principal of all this and making sure you do the right thing.”

And a package of bills that passed in the Senate Tuesday is aimed at confidentiality. The legislation would let victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking keep their home addresses private. That legislation was inspired by Nicole Beverly, whose ex-husband stalked and threatened her.

Bill sponsor Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, said this is about saving lives.

“They cannot be safe when they try to restart their life over,” she said. “So we wanted to offer a reasonable path that could help them stay in Michigan but start over and be able to be safe.”

A victim’s driver’s license and other forms of public identification would have a state address instead of their actual home address. Dozens of other states offer a similar confidentiality program. The bills now head to the state House for consideration.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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