Provo lawmaker sponsoring bill aimed at improving Utah’s justice system for crime victims
Jan 5, 2024, 7:18 PM | Updated: 7:26 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah lawmaker is sponsoring legislation aimed at improving Utah’s justice system for victims of crime.
Republican Rep. Tyler Clancy presented a draft of the bill titled “crime victims and witnesses amendments” to Utah’s Council on Victims of Crime Friday.
“We’re trying to create a better system for victims,” said Clancy, of Provo.
The bill aims to do a lot, including Clancy’s biggest goal: clearly outline, in one place, the legal rights for victims of crime in Utah.
“It was actually separated within three different sections of code, so we’re taking all that into one,” he explained. “So, if you are a victim, if a loved one is a victim, you can easily look at the rights that are afforded to you as a victim of crime and make sure those are being respected.” He said the bill also attempts to clarify the process of filing a complaint when a crime victim believes their rights have been violated, and the role of the council and those tasked with responding to complaints.
The KSL Investigators previously reported on concerns raised by survivors of sex crimes that the complaint process was confusing and did not lead to a resolution.
“We really believe that clarity can be trauma-informed,” he said Clancy. “If we can’t build trust in those systems that exist, then either people won’t engage, they won’t report, or they’ll look elsewhere.”
Clancy, a Provo police officer, is drawing on his own background in law enforcement and input from survivors who’ve experienced Utah’s justice system for themselves. He said the KSL Investigators Failure to Protect series, examining gaps at every level of Utah’s justice system for more than a year, also informed his work on the bill.
“One of the things that I really appreciated about your reporting is that you spoke to the victim, you spoke to the person who was in the process,” he said. “It’s hard to sit with someone who has experienced those traumatic events. However, as you’ve shown, it is super important. And that’s been motivating to myself and other lawmakers as we’ve joined in this effort together.”
The draft also calls for victims of crime to be notified of parole hearings, something Utah Board of Pardons and Parole administrative director Jennifer Yim told the KSL Investigators in September is a top priority.
Yim said Friday the board had not yet weighed in on Clancy’s bill, but that she is confident the legislation will end up with language the board will support.
“The Board is working on creating a victim-centered notification platform to improve our processes,” Yim wrote in an email. “Since we last spoke, we have made significant progress, including securing a federal grant to help fund it.”
During Friday’s meeting, Clancy said he recognizes the bill is an ambitious one with many components, and he will consider scaling back if necessary to ensure the key changes laid out in the bill can move forward. He also told the KSL Investigators he believes the proposal will gain support from his colleagues on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
“Building trust in the system isn’t a partisan idea,” he said.
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