By: Alicia Turner | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 9, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WCTV) -- There were nearly a dozen changes happening to state laws on Tuesday.
"At last we have some fairness for victims who are impacted," said Gail Stewart.
In November, Amendment 6 passed with 61 percent voter approval. The amendment came as a bundle deal, but for many, the selling point was victims’ rights.
"A lot of families carry around with them a lack of closure," said Stewart, who is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Her son was hit by an impaired driver three years ago. She said she never had the chance to face the offender.
"I was not able to read my victim's impact statement for me or my son," she said.
That’s all changed.
"Victims have been able to be a part of the criminal justice system at every aspect, but now it’s enforceable, and it's part of the constitution," said MADD Executive Director Kristen Allen.
Victims and their families will now be informed from the very beginning, from first appearance to a trial, then sentencing and upon release.
“To be able to speak up for them when they can no longer do it, it’s an empowering type of situation," Allen said.
Florida is now one of only a handful of other states to approve the law.
Before the election, opponents argued, "The problem with Amendment 6 is that it’s going to let the victims run the show. They're going to be able to tell the prosecutors, judges and law enforcement on how to handle the case," said Richard Greenberg, President of the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
"It’s a win, and it’s going to take baby steps, but it’s going to grow and progress in the United States," Allen explained.