Beware “Marsy’s Law”

Marsy’s Law claims to help victims of violent crimes, by making it easier to prosecute the accused but also keeping them behind bars for longer periods of time. This, mind you, comes as Democrats and Republicans in Washington are agreeing that prison sentences have been grotesquely excessive and are in need of reform toward some leniency. So Marsy’s Law is the kind of thing that you would have expected to see in the 1990s, when “Crime Bills” like mandatory minimums and sentence enhancements were all the rage and even moderate Democrats supported them.

My bigger problem is that this effort to amend the Montana Constitution is being funded, and was conceived, entirely by a California billionaire named Henry Nicholas, founder of Broadcom, who apparently has no connection to Montana at all.  Nicholas donated around $700,000 to the Montana project to get signatures and will no doubt throw in more. Chuck Denowh, the GOP operative, is running the effort and probably approached Nicholas to pitch him on the whole thing. Like any good astroturfer, Denowh is trying to make it appear on social media as though many Montanans are actively interested in supporting the the measure (they aren’t). And to my knowledge, no law enforcement official, nor victim, nor the Attorney General, has recently voiced any major needs or concern that at the Montana legislature to ask for all the things that Marsy’s Law provides. So it’s unclear why Nicholas is suddenly concerned about something in Montana that nobody really asked for.

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