Sheriff Graver helps to give victims a voice

Sheriff Greg Graver
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Jones County’s own Sheriff Greg Graver is throwing his support behind a worthy cause to benefit crime victims’ rights.

     Graver has traveled to Des Moines on several occasions recently to speak with legislators and meet with Gov. Kim Reynolds in support of Marsy’s Law.

     “Masy’s Law is named after Marsalee ‘Marsy’ Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983,” according to information Graver presented. “Only a week after she was murdered, her mother and brother walked into a grocery store after visiting Marsy’s grave where they saw the accused murderer. The family had no idea he had been released on bail. He remained free on bail until his conviction.”

     Marsy’s brother, Dr. Henry Nicholas, “has made it his mission in life to give victims and their families across the country constitutional protections and equal rights.”

     Graver said the Iowa constitutional amendment, Marsy’s Law, that he’s backing, would allow crime victims and their families/loved ones to receive notifications of court proceedings and major developments in criminal cases. This includes major developments or changes to the accused’s custodial rights. They would also have the right to be present at court proceedings and provide input before the plea agreement is finalized. In addition, rights to restitution would be granted.

     “Traditional what’s happened is victims don’t have the right to be heard,” said Graver.

     As a law enforcement officer, Graver said they spend most of their time with crime victims, which means he knows a thing or two about what they go through during and after a trial.

     “These cases last days, weeks, and even months,” he said. “You tend to develop a rapport with these victims, and many times law enforcement end up being the voice for the victims.”

     With Marsy’s Law, it would give victims their own voice, and the right to advocate for themselves.

     Graver said the Iowa Code offers statutory rights for these victims, but it’s not spelled out in the Iowa Constitution.

     “We’re trying to separate the difference,” he explained. “We’re pushing to get it in the Constitution, not just in the code so it’s not overlooked. They should be guaranteed those rights.”

     Graver sees Marsy’s Law as a bi-partisan effort, already gaining bi-partisan support.

     “These victims need to be treated with the respect their deserve,” he said. “They’ve already been victimized.”

     Graver said in his years in law enforcement, he’s seen issues pop up through the court system. He spent eight years serving as an investigator. He’s dealt with victims of sexual assault and abuse crimes. “I want to give them a platform to be heard,” he said.

     “I have a good relationship here with the prosecutors,” Graver continued. “I’ve been allowed to advocate on the behalf of victims. That’s not necessarily the same across the state.”

     With Marsy’s Law, the victims could choose how involved they wish to be in the criminal case and court system.

     “I’ve seen how frustrating these case can be,” he said. “We (as law enforcement) field lots of questions and the see the sorrow on their faces. A lot of times, the justice system doesn’t see that.”

     Aside form Graver’s support, there are also victims and prosecutors from across the state joining in the efforts as well.

     While Graver is hopeful there will be a change in the Constitution, he said there has been some pushback from certain groups in Iowa concerned about jeopardizing the accuser’s rights.

     “But I find that to be a weak argument,” he said.

     “In my 20-plus years (in law enforcement), this is the biggest piece of legislation I could support.”


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