10 More Reasons To Vote Yes On S

From the countless stories that have been shared from across the state of South Dakota, the need for Marsy’s Law is evident. Over and over, victims have shared how their needs have not been met by the current laws. Those within the criminal justice system have also come forward to tell of cases where they have witnessed the system fail victims. And advocates, as well, have spoken out on how they’ve seen first-hand the current rights of victims be ignored, violated and simply forgotten in the wake of being victimized. There are many reasons to vote yes on Amendment S. But for those who remain apprehensive about giving victims strong, enforceable rights backed by the state constitution, here are even more reasons why South Dakota needs Marsy’s Law:

1.      Crime victims in South Dakota have no constitutional rights so we have some of the weakest crime victim laws in the nation. SD is one of the last states that has no constitutional rights for victims. 

2.      South Dakota current statutes for victims’ rights lack clear enforceability and remedies. In Marbury v. Madison, the U.S. Supreme Court stated there can be no right without a remedy… therefore, in essence, SD’s existing crime victims’ rights statutes are not rights. 

3.      The current South Dakota Crime Victims’ Rights Act is very limited in scope and only applies to certain crimes. As a result, most crime victims in South Dakota have no rights. There are many serious crimes for which the victims have no rights under current SD law, including vehicular homicide, burglary (2nd and 3rd degree), arson, simple assault, intimidation, harassment, reckless driving, theft, fraud, vandalism, identify theft, embezzlement, human trafficking, or hate crimes.

4.      South Dakota law does not require crime victims be notified that they have rights- such notification should be a basic threshold right.

5.      Constitutional rights elevate victims’ rights to the place they belong so they are equal in strength to the rights of criminal offenders. Victims are the individuals most harmed by crime and yet too often they are an afterthought in our criminal justice system – even with statutory rights. Marsy’s Law would be a recognition that our criminal justice system should respect victims as much as it respects defendants.

6.      Until last month, South Dakota has been one of only five states that does not have an automated notification system for crime victims. The state is in the process of implementing the new Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification (SAVIN) system, but it won’t be available to most crime victims because it is limited under current law. Marsy’s Law will require that SAVIN be made available to all victims.

7.      Amendment S will protect crime victims by guaranteeing them a right to privacy and the right to be free from intimidation and abuse. It will also prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harm them or their family. 

8.      Amendment S will give victims a constitutional right to restitution and make their restitution a priority.

9.      Business owners and seniors in South Dakota are especially impacted by our state’s weak victims’ rights laws because victims of crimes like grand theft, fraud, embezzlement, and extortion are not included in the legal definition of ‘victim’ under current law…so they have no right to notification, to be present at hearings or to be heard. They also don’t have a right to confer with a prosecutor before a plea agreement is made.

10.  Amendment S will close a loophole in current South Dakota law for which victims of human trafficking by coercion or fraud are not currently recognized as victims.

Victims of crime in South Dakota deserve stronger, equal rights which can be enforced within our criminal justice system. Marsy’s Law, Amendment S, will ensure crime victims’ have these rights of which they are deserving. Please share to educate others and remember to vote YES on S!