SJR 103 (formerly SJR 101, SJR 102) intends to preserve and expand victim's rights in Idaho. While we agree that victims deserve swift prosecution and meaningful justice, we feel that this amendment will have serious unintended consequences in our broader criminal justice system.
Idaho victims of crime have a very robust set of statutory rights; including the right to be heard, attend proceedings, access information about their case, contribute information for sentencing of the defendant, consult with the prosecution, as well as many others. In reviewing the proposed constitutional amendment, it’s apparent that many of the provisions outlined in the bill will have a negative impact on our already overburdened criminal justice system, impacting the work of Idaho judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys while also jeopardizing the constitutional rights of criminal defendants.
The expansion of the definition for "victim,” as it is currently worded, could easily be interpreted to include insurance companies or other business entities who could then claim enforceable victims’ rights through the provisions of the amendment. Also, the additional requirement that victims can be heard at parole and probation hearings could result in the unnecessary extension of prison sentences leading to increased costs for incarceration.