23May Hughes: Rebekah Bletsch law will give victims a right to be heard Categories: Hughes News,News New law adopted after convicted murderer’s actions during Muskegon County case A new law requires convicted criminals to hear impact statements from victims or their families during sentencing hearings, state Rep. Holly Hughes announced today.The plan was submitted in response to a Muskegon County case where the convicted murderer of Rebekah Bletsch requested to leave the court before the victim impact statements. The new law will prevent such an action, allowing for a judge to have discretion if the offender is disruptive or a safety risk to anyone attending the court hearing.The legal requirement will be the Rebekah Bletsch Law.“Criminals in Michigan must now hear how their crimes affected their victims or a victim’s loved ones,” said Hughes, of Montague. “The family of a Muskegon County woman, who was a daughter, wife, mother, and sister was prevented from speaking about how a convicted murderer turned their lives upside down. They’ll be among the last families denied that right because Rebekah’s law will remind everyone that a victim’s rights to speak in court is not secondary to a convicted criminal.”Jessica Josephson and Debra Reamer, the sister and mother of Rebekah Bletsch, spoke before state House and Senate committees as the bill worked through the legislative process.“A part of my grieving process was taken from me in a horrible way,” Josephson said, during her testimony. “What is the point of an impact statement if I can’t speak to the person who has impacted me and destroyed my family? No other family should have to feel their words and their heartache don’t matter. Victims have a right to be heard and express their feelings to the individuals who caused it.”Hughes’ legislation updates the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim Rights Act, which set the procedures currently used in Michigan courtrooms for protection of victims.“The individual who murdered Rebekah was also convicted of murdering Jessica Heeringa just last week. That monster should hear from both families on how his despicable actions broke hearts and tore lives apart,” Hughes said. “The one positive from all of this is that we have guaranteed that victims will be heard from now on.”House Bill 5407 is now Public Act 153 of 2018.