DES MOINES, IOWA — Back in 2015 in Sioux City, Liz Ford and her husband attempted to help a man they found unconscious in his truck. While Ford was calling 911 the person in the car became aware and attempted to run over Ford but missed. Instead, the driver ran over her husband, leaving him dead on the street and herself in shock.
“Since that day I have exhaustingly had to fight every step of the way in the process,” said Ford. “The reason: our system is broken. Pure and simple.”
The offender was sentenced to 25 years, but after a plea deal dropping drug charges and leaving the scene of a fatality; the sentence got changed to 11 years without her knowing. She found out about that change five years after the lessening of charges.
“I checked every box on the form to be notified of everything,” said Ford. She feels that the system had failed her and her rights as a victim. Then again, she said her rights were violated.
“The offender was recently released after 6 years for killing my husband violently murdering him in front of me,” said Ford. She said that there had been many failures in her case and that she is sill fighting battles every single day.
Other survivors and victims like Ford gathered at the Statehouse on Monday to express their concern about crime victims’ rights and that they are going unnoticed. Those rights are already recognized in law, but advocates want to make sure that they are not second thoughts.
“We quit giving them the respect and dignity that they needed and the respect and courtesies of when the trial was,” said State Representative Marti Anderson (D) from Des Moines. “Of telling them when the person was getting out of prison.”
The current law gives victims the right of notification of criminal proceedings to make them aware of what is going on with the offender. Right now the debate is between whether or not victim rights belong in the State’s constitution and not just in a statute.
“There are concerns,” said State Representative Steven Holt, (R) from Denison, who is the sponsor of the bill. “The question is does it belong in the constitution or does it belong in statute.”
The full bill, House Study Bill 525, is available online.