SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A majority of South Dakota voters said yes to a new constitutional amendment to give victims of crimes their own “bill of rights.”
Marsy’s Law is named after a California woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Her killer confronted her brother and mother after he was released from prison. They had no idea he had been let out.
South Dakota is one of 14 states where voters approved Marsy’s Law. But it doesn’t come without its detractors. Two states have overturned Marsy’s Law and in Pennsylvania, it’s tied up in court.
Marsy’s Law constitutional protections include the right to be notified of court proceedings and to be heard in court, as well as receive restitution from the criminal.
“For me, it was more of a healing journey for myself because I was told to be quiet for so long. So then it was my time to speak out, which is what Marsy’s Law is all about, you get your voice. So you shouldn’t have to have a lawyer,” Marsy’s Law Advocate and Domestic Abuse Victim, Holly Wethor, said.
Marsy’s Law was revised in South Dakota in 2018, to include that several measures aren’t automatic and that victims must request them.
Law enforcement and prosecutors provide victims with the information on a Marsy’s Law Card.
However, some victims say Marsy’s Law has been misinterpreted and applied inconsistently in the criminal justice system.
KELOLAND Investigates has looked at technical problems in the statewide automated notification system, where victims failed to get a notification of proceedings or release. We’re also looking at a rape case currently in court where a victim says her rights have been ignored and she had to hire her own attorney in the case.
“The aftermath of all of this—reporting it, it almost seems not worth it,” Sara said.
Our KELOLAND News investigation into these “Voiceless Victims,” has details of what played out in court in this rape case Monday on KELOLAND News at 10.