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Whitmer signs Michigan bills protecting, supporting victims of crime

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation to support the victims of crime by expanding access to support services for domestic and sexual violence survivors and adding privacy protections.

Whitmer said the bills will “protect people’s privacy and safety while ensuring swift prosecutions for those who commit these crimes.”

“As a former prosecutor, I am committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The bipartisan Michigan Crime Victims’ Rights Package will improve coordination between law enforcement and organizations for survivors, prioritize the privacy of survivors who testify, allow virtual testimony, and update penalties for harming health care workers.”

House Bill 4420, sponsored by Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, allows police officers or prosecuting attorneys to share victims’ contact information with domestic and sexual violence service providers to offer supportive services to victims.

“I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I have done on the bipartisan Crime Victim’s Rights Bill Package,” Rogers said in a statement. “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. Ensuring victims are connected to survivor-centered programs such as trauma recovery is vital for survivors to feel supported— and it’s essential that their privacy be protected as they seek help.”

HB 4421, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Young, D-Detroit, allows for a crime victim’s image to be blurred in videos, photos, and sketches of court proceedings streamed on the internet to prevent digital stalking.

“Passing these bills to provide greater protection for crime survivors and witnesses has been a major priority for me,” Young said in a statement… “It is my hope this will give peace of mind to those giving testimony to know their images won’t be used for digital stalking or other abuses.”

HB 4422, sponsored by Rep. Graham Filler, R-Clinton County, expands the definition of serious misdemeanor to include additional misdemeanor offenses. The offenses include threatening a state health official with physical harm, embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, and causing serious injury or death while driving.

“This bipartisan legislation will give crime victims a louder voice in the judicial process,” Filler said in a statement. “Crime victims, who have been terrorized and victimized, deserve resources & support & protection during the sentencing and trial phase. These are the kinds of bills that may save lives.”

HB 4423, sponsored by Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores, allows a victim to provide an oral impact statement virtually at a disposition or sentencing.

“We must do all we can to ensure crime victim’s voices are heard and that they are able to share these statements where they are safe and away from their abuser,” VanWoerkom said in a statement.”

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