Rights of Crime Victims Strengthened Under New Law
ANCHORAGE-This morning, Governor Sean Parnell signed Senate Bill 135 into law. Sponsored by Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage), SB 135 strengthens the rights of crime victims by requiring prosecutors and judges to consider a victim’s right to a timely disposition of the case when deciding whether to allow continuances.
“The right to a speedy trial is generally thought of as a protection for those accused of a crime, but victims have an equally compelling interest in the timely resolution of a case,” said Senator French. “Extensive delays create intolerable stress for victims. As a former state prosecutor, I saw first-hand the devastation victims experience every time a case is delayed.”
The legislation also ensures that victims are notified of any requests or motions that could substantially delay speedy prosecution of the case.
“This new law fulfills promises made by a 1994 amendment to the State’s constitution which ensures victims receive the same consideration in their rights to a speedy trial as defendants,” said Senator French.
Senator French worked closely with Karen Foster and victims’ rights groups on the legislation. Karen Foster is the mother of Bonnie Craig, who was the victim in one of Anchorage’s most well-known murder cases. Craig was just 18-years old in 1994 when she was abducted, brutally raped, and murdered in South Anchorage. Twelve years later in 2006, a DNA database established by the state legislature linked Kenneth Dion to the crime, but it was another five years before his trial was held and a jury convicted him. Last year, 17 years after the vicious attack, Dion was sentenced to 124 years behind bars for Craig’s murder.
For more information, please contact Lila Hobbs in Senator French’s office at (907) 269-0234.