Understanding Marsy's Law in South Dakota

Understanding Marsy's Law in South Dakota

On the November 8th ballot, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota passed amendments implementing Marsy's Law into the law of the land.

Marsy's Law, according to its official website, "ensure's that victims have the same co-equal rights as the accused and convicted-nothing more, nothing less."

Here in South Dakota, nearly 60 percent of the Mount Rushmore state voted to enact Amendment S labeled to protect victims rights.

"It's going to affect law enforcement," Jerry Miller, the state's attorney for Union County, said, "it's going to protect prosecution, it's going to affect the court system and its emphasis is to provide constitutional rights at all stages of the process."

Advocates of Marsy's used severe crimes like rape and murder to show why South Dakota needed the law but here in Union County, we are already seeing the effects for all types of incidences.

For example, two nights ago the Glass Palace Casino in North Sioux City was robbed.

Following the incident, police were not and still aren't allowed to disclose the name of the establishment robbed or any other major details because it would be violating the victim's Marsy's rights.

"Which could be the victim of the establishment," Miller said, "the manager or employees in the establishment where such a crime may have occurred, including a person that owns the business."

And if an owner were to be a group of people that means all those people would have to be notified before any information could be released or any court proceedings could take place.

It was originally proposed that Marsy's Law wouldn't cost the state much money, if any, but Miller is saying that's not what happening.

"Many state's attorney's offices have already asked their commissioners for increased staffing to manage the number of phone calls and email addresses that need to...the sheer number of people that need to be contacted now versus what we use to deal with," he said.

It's something that South Dakota State Senator Jim Bolin says will come directly from the tax payer.

"It's going to result in a higher property tax for the people in South Dakota," Bolin said. "We aren't sure about all the implications and I think in the future you're going to see other unintented consequences of the passage of this constitutional amendment."

Miller says they used to only need to contact people affected from severe and major crimes, now the law requires any victim is contacted for any crime.

"60 percent of the public felt this was an appropriate amendment that South Dakota needed," Miller said, "it's the law of the land and there are going to be consequences for that."

Some of the people against Marsy's Law in South Dakota included the South Dakota State Bar Association and a former state attorney general.

South Dakota is one of five states that now has Marsy's Law.

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