THE AMENDMENT shares the authentic and often painstaking journey of crime victims

Why a U.S. Constitutional Amendment?

Victim rights’ leaders Darlene Hutchinson Beihl and John Gillis join Brooks Douglass to discuss the importance of equal rights for crime victims.

Host A Movie Showing In Your City

“It was a true honor to host Brooks Douglass and to show his amazing film. I was very impressed with the production values, the quality of the acting, and especially the power of the story. The movie is an incredibly compelling account of Brooks Douglass’ personal triumph over tragedy, injustice and unfathomable loss. I couldn’t help but be deeply moved, as were the 650+ advocates, prosecutors, police, victims, and survivors of homicide who were in attendance at the showing of the film. I encourage all those who support and work with victims to host a showing of this remarkable and impactful movie. This is a truly unique way to honor victims and promote victims’ rights.”
 – Barbara LaWall,
Pima County District Attorney,
Tucson, AZ


Victims’ Rights – or Lack Thereof

“I believe in the rights of the accused, but I also believe in the rights of victims and their families. This is a system that literally steps over the body of a victim to read a criminal his rights.”       – Brooks Douglass

There are 23 enumerated rights in the U.S. Constitution for anyone accused of a crime, but zero rights for victims in our country’s founding document. Consequently, law enforcement, judges, and lawyers receive extensive training in upholding defendants’ rights, but may receive little to no training in victim care. As a result, victims are often neglected and lack the financial, legal, and emotional support necessary to navigate the criminal justice system and reach a sense of restoration. 

Why a U.S. Constitutional Amendment?

While a U.S. Constitutional Amendment may seem lofty and unrealistic, it is actually imperative to protecting and serving victims. When our founding fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they were recovering from the repercussions of the ruling British government that could seize their property and imprison people without a fair trial. Rights to protect the accused were imperative and written into the 1789 Bill of Rights which include:

1st Amendment: Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press
2nd Amendment: The Right to Bear Arms
3rd Amendment: The Housing of Soldiers
4th Amendment: Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
5th Amendment: Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
6th Amendment: Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases
7th Amendment: Rights in Civil Cases
8th Amendment: Excessive Bail, Fines, and Searches Forbidden

Some of these amendments are now represented in the “Miranda Rights” read to the accused at a crime scene: “You have the right to remain silent…. You have the right to an attorney.” These are important protections and part of what makes American law a model for so many democracies.

The problem for victims of crime is that the U.S. Constitutional Law is far more powerful than any state or federal legislation or statues. All victim rights legislation is written at the state or federal statutory level so is inferior to U.S. Constitutional Law, therefore can and is often overridden and even ignored in favor of laws protecting the accused.

To truly protect and serve victims, victim rights legislation needs to be equivalent to the rights of the accused—which can only be accomplished through a U.S. Constitutional Amendment.

CLICK for recommended text for a Proposed U.S. Constitutional Amendment for Victim Rights

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