A Senate panel heard testimony yesterday on a package of bills to improve the treatment of crime victims by the justice system.
Half of the so-called "victim's rights" legislation was developed by a task force headed by Lt. Gov. Joseph Curran; the other half was drafted by the Stephanie Roper Committee, a victim's rights group formed in the wake of the brutal 1982 murder and rape of a Croom woman.
Among the bills are measures that would prohibit the release of a victim's address and telephone number, allow victims or their representatives to address the courts upon sentencing, allow victims to be notifed when their attackers are scheduled for parole hearings and create the sentence of life imprisonment without parole in first-degree-murder cases.
These bills have passed the Senate in previous years but have died in a House committee.
New this year are measures drafted by the task force to speed the return of a crime victim's property if seized by the state as evidence, to minimize disruption to the victim's life if he or she is called on to testify in a case, to create victim's services units in each subdivision and to establish a "Crime Victim's Bill of Rights" in the state's criminal code.