From left to right, Reps. Stephanie Young, Julie Rogers and Graham Filler hold copies of bills they've introduced to expand support for crime victims.

From left to right, Reps. Stephanie A. Young, Julie Rogers and Graham Filler hold copies of bills they’ve introduced to expand support for crime victims.

LANSING, Mich., April 14, 2023 — A bipartisan set of four bills focused on protecting victims of crime in Michigan by expanding available support services has been introduced in the House.

The “Protecting Michigan Crime Victims Package” would ensure crime victims have access to the available resources they need. The bills would amend the Crime Victims’ Rights Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure by providing additional protections and resources to the victims of crimes.

Law enforcement sometimes hesitates to provide outreach to crime victims’ services on behalf of the victim because existing laws do not explicitly state they can. One bill in the package, House Bill 4420, sponsored by state Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), aims to change this by providing an explicit provision in Michigan statute that clearly states law enforcement officers and prosecutors are permitted and encouraged to engage and initiate survivor-focused outreach, such as sharing a domestic or sexual abuse survivor’s contact information with survivor service agencies. The bill would still require law enforcement or prosecutors to let the survivor know their information was shared.

“Violence unfortunately has a way of infiltrating our communities — we’ve seen it in our schools, in homes, at our workplaces and in our neighborhoods,” Rogers said. “Every time a crime happens, it’s a reminder that support services, such as trauma recovery, are vital for survivors struggling to process the wide range of emotions that follow — and it’s essential that their privacy be protected as they seek help.” 

Another bill, House Bill 4421, sponsored by state Rep. Stephanie A. Young (D-Detroit) would allow a crime victim’s face to be blurred in videos of court proceedings that are uploaded to the internet where they can be viewed by the public.

“Similar to juveniles because of their age, crime victims deserve identity protection because of their overall vulnerability,” Young said. “This is especially important when court proceedings are uploaded to the internet where anyone with a computer or smartphone can view them. If we can protect people by redacting their physical home address and other personal details in documents, we should be blurring faces in digital files to protect them in cyberspace as well.”  

Two other bills in the package would update the definition of a serious misdemeanor to include additional crimes for the purpose of allowing victims to access resources for which they are not currently eligible and allow remote victim impact statements. They were sponsored by Republican state Reps. Graham Filler and Greg VanWoerkem, respectively.

All four bills are reintroductions of legislation introduced last session that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support but did not advance through the entire legislative process.

“It is critical that we work together on shared safety solutions, and this legislation has been drafted with a clear focus on survivors and what their various needs are as they try to recover from traumatic situations that no one should ever have to experience,” added Rogers. “I am grateful to my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — for introducing these bills that I hope to see advance all the way to the governor’s desk.”