A victim's bill of rights has been established in state law but the families of victims say the state has failed miserably in their required duties. The families say they've been victimized by the criminals and also by the state.
The mother of Tammy Ellis Gatlin says to have lived through the violent murder of her daughter was nearly more than she could handled. And to make matters worse, the state has victimized her by not following the law set forth that are supposed to afford her certain rights as the relative of a crime victim.
"Why do we have guidelines and laws if we're not going to follow them. There were legislators and senators that spent time drawing up these guidelines for the people to follow and it's just like they don't exist," said the victim's mother, Betty Ellis.
In July of 1993, David Glenn Gatlin went to the home of his estranged wife and shot her in the head while she held their weeks old child. He was charged with capital murder but pled to lesser charges of murder, aggravated assault and burglary.
Ellis says she's having to relive the nightmare. "Every time you have to deal with this it's just like the day that you're told that your loved one is gone. One of the people that was at the hearing the other day, she just made the comment, well it's just like loading up to go back to the funeral again," Ellis added.
Family members say it seems like all the rights are afforded to the criminals and little effort goes to help the victim's families.
"If one of the prisoners, something goes wrong in the prison, you can rest assured somebody's going to be hollering about that because their rights have been violated but the victims, our rights have been violated this time," said Ellis.
She says they tried to talk with state officials, to include former Governor Barbour, but that no one wanted to talk with them.
The Department of Corrections is the office of primary responsibility and they referred our questions to the state attorney general.
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