If you notice by the press release from the AG below, there’s going to be at least one constitutional amendment on the ballot this year that everyone should be able to get behind – The Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights. If you’re wondering what it is…
Marsy’s Law, the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, is an Amendment to the state’s Constitution and certain Penal Code sections enacted by voters through the initiative process in the November 2008 general election. The Act protects and expands the legal rights of victims of crime to include 17 rights in the judicial process, including the right to legal standing, protection from the defendant, notification of all court proceedings, and restitution, as well as granting parole boards far greater powers to deny inmates parole.
I spoke with the measure sponsor, Jason Glodt, whom most elected party officials and activists should know well, about the measure, and why it’s coming to South Dakota. It’s rather serendipitous that this has come about, and very welcome measure, as I’ve written about the problems of restitution in South Dakota before.
Jason tells me that 35 states have crime victim rights measures, but South Dakota is one of 15 that do not. At the same time that constitutional rights protect the rights of citizens, they protect the rights of criminals. What this measure seeks to do is to place the rights of victims on the same footing at the same level.
When it was first passed in California in 2008, it received 53% of the vote. When passed recently in Illinois, it passed with 77% Ultimately, they have a goal to seek a federal constitutional amendment on equal rights for victims, but in the absence of it, this is a good intermediary step.
What does the measure propose to add to the constitution?
MARSY’S LAW: A SOUTH DAKOTA CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO AFFORD CRIME VICTIMS EQUAL RIGHTS
Section I . That Article VI of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota be amended by adding a new section to read as follows:
§29. A victim shall have the following rights, beginning at the time of victimization:
I .The right to due process and to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s dignity;
2. The right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse;.
3. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused and any person acting on behalf of the accused;
4.The right to have the safety and welfare of the victim and the victim’s family considered when setting bail or making release decisions;
5.The right to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information about the victim, and to be notified of any request for such information or records;
6.The right to privacy, which includes the right to refuse an interview, deposition or other discovery request, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interaction to which the victim consents;
7. The right to reasonable, accurate and timely notice of, and to be present at, all proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct, including release, plea, sentencing, adjudication and disposition, and any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated;
8. The right to be promptly notified of any release or escape of the accused;
9.The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, adjudication, disposition or parole, and any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated;
10. The right to confer with the attorney for the government;
11. The right to provide information regarding the impact of the offender’s conduct on the victim and the victim’s family to the individual responsible for conducting any pre-sentence or disposition investigation or compiling any pre-sentence investigation report or plan of disposition, and to have any such information considered in any sentencing or disposition recommendations;
12. The right to receive a copy of any pre-sentence report or plan of disposition, and any other report or record relevant to the exercise of a victim’s right, except for those portions made confidential by law;
13. The right to the prompt return of the victim’s property when no longer needed as evidence in the case;
14. The right to full and timely restitution in every case and from each offender for all losses suffered by the victim as a result of the criminal conduct (And this is long overdue – PP) and as provided by law for all losses suffered as a result of delinquent conduct. All monies and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to the restitution owed to the victim before paying any amounts owed to the government;
15. The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, and to a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings;
16. The right to be informed of the conviction, adjudication, sentence, disposition, place and time of incarceration, detention or other disposition of the offender, any scheduled release date of the offender, and the release of or the escape by the offender from custody;
17.The right to be informed in a timely manner of all post-judgment processes and procedures, to participate in such processes and procedures, to provide information to the release authority to be considered before any release decision is made, and to be notified of any release decision regarding the offender. Any parole authority shall extend the right to be heard to any person harmed by the offender;
18. The right to be informed in a timely manner of clemency and expungement procedures, to provide information to the Governor, the court, any clemency board and other authority in these procedures, and to have that information considered before a clemency or expungement decision is made, and to be notified of such decision in advance of any release of the offender; and
19. The right to be informed of these rights, and to be informed that a victim can seek the advice of an attorney with respect to the victim’s rights. This information shall be made available to the general public and provided to each crime victim in what is referred to as a Marsy’ s Card.
What do you think? Are you ready to get behind and support the victims of crime in South Dakota?