Marsy's Law advocates encourage a 'yes' vote on Amendment Y

Published: May. 21, 2018 at 4:44 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

In just two weeks, voters with cast their ballot in South Dakota’s June 5th primary election; also on the ballot is Constitutional Amendment Y.

Advocates say this constitutional amendment is the result of more than a year of collaboration from many different parties to try and fix some of the unintended issues caused by the passage of Marsy's Law in 2016.

When voters approved Marsy's Law during the 2016 election, state leaders say it sparked a chain of unintended consequences that have meant a lot of additional work and expense for law enforcement and in some cases, it has even brought hardship on the victims it’s meant to protect.

“What we saw with Marsy's Law was that we were not able to help our victims as much as we had in the past,” The Compass Center Executive Director Michelle Markgraf said.

Markgraff said the way the state interpreted Marsy’s law made it difficult for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to connect with victims’ advocates.

“They had so much other paper work to do, those victim witness assistants couldn't help our survivors and give our rape survivors the same assistance they had in the past,” Markgraff said.

“Right now they get lost in the shuffle of notifications of even the most minor crimes,” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.

Law enforcement agencies around the state say they're bogged down with mandatory notifications of every minor crime. They say Marsy’s Law has also prevented authorities from releasing the name or address of where a crime occurs.

“If there's a robbery at Sammy’s Pizza, we'd like to be able to say that,” Milstead said. “We want to be able to continue to utilize the eyes and ears of the public to help us solve crimes and this Amendment Y fixes that.”

A large group of advocates joined together Monday morning in support of Amendment Y, saying it addresses all of the unintended issues in Marsy’s Law.

“This is a story that would tell you how important communication and good dialogue is to good legislation,” Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson said.

For the past year lawmakers, victims’ advocates, law enforcement and Marsy's Law representatives have worked to write Amendment Y.

“So ultimately law enforcement can work with victims, can share information with other entities outside of law enforcement, for the ultimate goal of helping and protecting victims here in South Dakota,” Attorney General Marty Jackley said.

One of the key elements of Amendment Y is the phrase ‘upon request,’ it allows victims to opt into the protections offered in Marsy's Law, which advocates say will save resources being used on minor crimes and while offering better protections and service to victims of serious crimes.

"It will allow victims to opt in and out of those protections, which will really give control to the county commission and sheriff to control their costs which could result in potential savings or to redirect those towards victims of violent crimes which are the victims most of us are really interested in helping,"

People of any political affiliation can cast their vote on Amendment Y during the June 5th election.

A vote ‘yes’ will implement the proposed changes. A vote ‘no’ will keep Marsy's Law as it is.