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Bill would give victims of violent crimes more rights in Maine

FILE - A bill that would give victims of violent crimes more rights is being discussed at the state house. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- A bill that would give victims of violent crimes more rights is being discussed at the state house.

Advocates of the bill say it would keep them safer.

The family of Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983, has been advocating for the changes ever since Marsy’s mother saw her killer in a grocery store and had no idea he was out on bail.

Under the bill, victims who've survived a violent crime would be notified, upon request, when the accused or convicted person is released from custody, when their court and parole hearings are, and victims would have the option to speak at them.

The proposal states victims would be treated with fairness and dignity with respect for their safety and privacy concerns.

The wording on the bill states victims would be treated with "fairness and dignity with respect for their safety and privacy concerns.” That wording has some lawmakers questioning what would and wouldn't be allowed to be said or answered by victims in court.

Those against the bill are also concerned the bill would add to the ongoing backlog of the criminal defense docket, among several other things.

There was a public hearing on the bill Wednesday; lawmakers will have a work session on it Friday.

If approved, it would go before voters in November, because it would make a change to Maine's constitution.

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