A Closer Look with Sheri Farmer
Sheri Farmer’s oldest child, Lori Lee, was murdered on June 13, 1977, on her first night of Girl Scout camp. Sheri and her husband, Dr. Bo Farmer, subsequently founded the Oklahoma chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. For decades, Sheri has traveled throughout Oklahoma speaking to numerous organizations, including the state police academy, victim-witness coordinators, and at Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations training sessions. Sheri has served on the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Task Force and addressed Oklahoma state legislators during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in 2021. She was a vital advocate in the passage of Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma, passed by voters in 2018, enshrining enumerated rights into the state constitution.
Through your experience as an advocate for victims' rights, how do you believe Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma is helping victims and survivors of crime?
Victims deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully. Marsy’s Law in Oklahoma helps balance the rights of victims and the rights of defendants in the justice system so that they have a chance at achieving that opportunity. Specifically, the rights to be informed, present, and heard during court proceedings were finally granted to Oklahomans by the constitutional amendment and that was huge. The [Marsy's Law] right to restitution is a very helpful tool in supporting victims when the impact of the crime may also affect them financially.
Since Marsy’s Law has passed in your state, what differences have you seen/anticipate seeing take place in the court system?
Marsy’s Law has been widely received in Oklahoma. I have seen it represented in the district attorneys’ offices and by law enforcement, in getting information to those who need help navigating the criminal justice process in real-time. In Oklahoma, Marsy’s Law is seen as a framework of rights that not only affects state law but also serves as a resource across various jurisdictions working together across our state.
Which component of Marsy’s Law stands out most to you and why?
The main component of Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma that stands out to me is the right for victims AND their families to be treated with respect by providing the right to be heard in court. That is the absolute first step in restoring their faith in the justice system. The guarantee of providing a voice to victims is more than a courtesy, but it makes the experience approachable and fair.
As you've worked to spread awareness about Marsy's Law in Oklahoma, what has been the response from those you work with and in your community?
I feel those in law enforcement, the justice system, and across the community have embraced Marsy’s Law and are anxious to implement the various components that provide crime victims and their families these rights they truly deserve. Awareness weeks like National Crime Victims’ Rights Week encourage solidarity and visibility for individuals who really need the support. I also love that Marsy’s Law is still very active, serving victims however applicable and connecting resources and organizations as they serve survivors every day.