Q&A on Victims and Marsy’s Law for Idaho with Paige Dinger from Faces of Hope
Paige Dinger is the Executive Director of Faces of Hope Foundation in Boise. The foundation plays a critical role in the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit victim center through fundraising and leadership. Every year, Faces of Hope helps hundreds of men, women, and children who turn to the victim center at times of crisis and need. We thank her for taking the time to discuss the victim experience and how Marsy’s Law for Idaho is designed to help crime victims.
Based on your experiences working with victims and survivors, how do you believe the potential implementation of Marsy's Law for Idaho would positively impact the lives of crime victims?
There are two facets to Marsy’s Law for Idaho that I believe would make a difference for crime victims here. One is the right for victims to be able to confer with prosecutors, discuss the case, and feel like they are more engaged in the legal process. I think prosecutors in Idaho do a good job of this, especially in bigger jurisdictions. But Idaho is a big rural state and I worry that without it being enshrined into law some victims may miss that opportunity.
When discussing the criminal justice system with victims and survivors of crime, what are some common themes or frustrations that you have noticed among those navigating the system?
Navigating the criminal justice system as a victim/survivor of interpersonal violence can be pretty frustrating at times. When a survivor comes to Faces of Hope for services, we often hear some of their challenges. Most commonly, many survivors say that the justice system lacks empathy for their situation, others fear retaliation from their abuser, and many complain about the financial burden it is to get good legal representation. In cases involving children, victims of domestic violence face challenges related to custody and visitation rights, as many victims worry for the well-being of their children when they must share custody with their abuser. Also, legal jargon and complex procedures can be confusing for those who don’t have a legal background, and sadly, some victims experience feelings of shame or stigma associated with being in an abusive relationship. This sometimes deters victims from seeking help and reporting incidents to law enforcement. Faces of Hope Foundation believes in a trauma-centered approach when it comes to supporting victims of interpersonal violence. Here, we support a survivor's physical, emotional, educational, and basic needs. None of us go into a relationship thinking we will ever have the justice system involved. Still, if that happens, survivors must be supported and believed.
Among the various components of Marsy's Law, is there a particular aspect that stands out to you as being especially impactful? Could you share why this specific component resonates with you and how you envision it making a difference in the lives of crime victims if implemented in your state?
Something we always emphasize here at Faces of Hope is making sure the victims have information to ensure their safety. So, the notification component that Marsy’s Law for Idaho has been working toward is an important piece of the puzzle. Idaho already has a notification policy in place and for the most part, it’s effective. However, there is a blind spot in that there is no requirement for notification in instances when the offender absconds from probation or parole. It makes a lot of sense from a victims’ safety perspective to close this loop.
As you have been working to raise awareness about the need for Marsy's Law in Idaho, what has been the response from the individuals you work with and from your community regarding the potential implementation of such legislation to better protect and support crime victims?
Marsy’s Law in Idaho provides essential rights and protections for victims of crime. Allowing victims of interpersonal violence to have a voice is crucial for ensuring a fair and just legal process, and can give them peace of mind, which is something every victim deserves. Marsy’s Law empowers victims, promotes a sense of agency, reduces the risk of secondary victimization, and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding the criminal justice system.