Marsy’s Law Compromise Achieved
Legislators, Law Enforcement, Victims, and Advocates come together to support commonsense clarification of Marsy’s Law
Pierre, S.D. – Today, Marsy’s Law for South Dakota and South Dakota Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson announced that an agreement has been reached to advance a commonsense clarification to the Marsy’s Law Amendment that overwhelmingly passed in 2016.
“Everyone wanted to protect enforceable, constitutional rights for crime victims and the will of the voters. We identified some enforcement, implementation, and interpretation issues that required all parties to come together to find a workable solution”, said Speaker Mark Mickelson. “I applaud the Marsy’s Law organization, victims’ rights community, states attorneys, and law enforcement involved in forging this solution. South Dakota will be better off because of this collaboration.”
States Attorneys, Sheriffs, Speaker Mickelson, and the Marsy’s Law organization have been working to clarify some unintended consequences of the measure. The Speaker will introduce new language this week that clarifies how law enforcement can share information, encourages teamwork to solve cases, and creates an opt-in process to help victims and law enforcement achieve the goals of Marsy’s Law.
“We appreciate Speaker Mickelson, states attorneys, local law enforcement, and the statewide victim advocacy coalition coming together to turn challenges into solutions,” said Erinn Mahathey. “The Marsy’s Law organization is committed to equal level, enforceable constitutional rights for victims of crime. Once we identified that everyone shared a commitment to enforceable constitutional rights, we quickly found out that we also shared the same desire to make this as efficient as possible for law enforcement, the legal community and, most of all, victims of crime.”
The amendment, which will be introduced by Speaker Mickelson and Senator Jim Bolin, protects every constitutional right passed by South Dakota voters in 2016 while adding in new clarification language to ensure the rights can be carried out efficiently by South Dakota Law Enforcement.
“We work hard for victims of crime and we had some real concerns about our ability to implement what the voters had passed,” said Mark Vargo, Pennington County States Attorney. “This collaborative process maintains the rights voters approved while providing clarity and guidance for law enforcement and states attorneys. This is a victory for our state and I’m grateful for the hard work so many people put in to achieve this agreement.” Pennington County Sheriff, Kevin Thom stated, “We owe it to victims of crime to provide services in the most effective way possible and these changes enable us to better do so.”
Krista Heeren-Graber, Director of SD Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault said, “I understood and appreciated the concerns of law enforcement so we all worked together to come to a solution that works for South Dakota. I couldn’t be more proud that South Dakota will continue to have equal, constitutional rights for victims of crime and the confidence that we’ve done it in a way that has removed any concerns or clarification necessary for enforcement.”
The clarification amendment will need to pass both legislative chambers before moving to the June ballot for a vote of the people. The Marsy’s Law for South Dakota organization, Speaker Mickelson, and other legislative leaders, states attorneys, and victim advocacy organizations have all agreed to work together to educate the public about the changes and advocate for a ‘yes’ vote.
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