Supporters, Opponents Clash Over Amendment to Marsy’s Law

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Supporters say a change to Marsy’s Law will better help victims of violent crimes; opponents say it won’t. For many South Dakota voters, Amendment Y may be the only thing on the ballot during the June Primary. 

In about two weeks, voters will decide whether to change the law that is supposed to help protect a victim’s privacy and records following a crime. It went into effect in 2016, but has had a number of problems since. 

If approved, the amendment would narrow the definition of “victim”. Anyone who is impacted by a crime would have to opt into those privacy protections from Marsy’s Law. Supporters and an opponent are making their cases as we get closer to Election Day. 

Monday morning, a group in front of the federal courthouse in Sioux Falls gave a different kind of testimony. Amendment Y supporters say being able to opt into Marsy’s Law will allow law enforcement to focus more on victims of serious crimes.

Michelle Markgraf with the Compass Center says the law as it is added barriers for advocates for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. 

“It was tougher for us to give victim witness assistance to help with survivors because they had so much other paperwork they had to do,” Markgraf said. 

Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead says Amendment Y will allow investigators to share information with the public.

“If there’s a robbery at Sammy’s Pizza, we’d like to be able to say that,” Milstead said. 

Milstead says that will make it easier for investigators.

“We want to be able to continue to utilize the eyes and ears of the public to help solve crimes,” Milstead said. 

Not everyone agrees the amendment will help people. 

“It limits the definition of victim. So, whatever other merits the amendments may have, the proponents aren’t telling the truth,” Cory Heidelberger said. 

Heidelberger, a blogger and state senate candidate, says Amendment Y reduces victims’ rights in the state. 

“When you go to trial, you don’t have to ask for a fair trial to have a right to a fair trial,” Heidelberger said.

Heidelberger says the only way to fix Marsy’s Law is to repeal it. 

“South Dakota had perfectly good crime victims’ Bill of Rights written into statute as of 1991. Things were fine,” Heidelberger said.

Ultimately, voters will decide. 

Review what else will be on primary ballot online



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