History of Marsy’s Law for South Dakota
Efforts to bring Marsy’s Law to South Dakotans began in 2015, with 27,741 signatures needed for the constitutional amendment to qualify for placement on the ballot. Over 45,000 signatures later, Marsy’s Law became the first ballot question to be validated and certified by the Secretary of State and the first officially approved to appear on the November 2016 General Election ballot.
In the lead up to voting day, South Dakotans across the state worked to inform voters as to why they should support Amendment S, Marsy’s Law for South Dakota, and endorsements rolled in from across the state, including from Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore and State Representative Lance Russell. Additionally, many victims and advocates spoke out in favor of Amendment S with strong polling indicating up to 84% of South Dakotans in support of equal crime victims’ rights through Marsy’s Law.
On November 8, 2016, Marsy’s Law was officially passed by voters with 60% of South Dakotans voting in favor of the constitutional amendment.
Today, nearly three-quarters of South Dakota voters continue to support Marsy’s Law. As the state continues to lead the way in equal crime victims’ rights, updates to Marsy’s Law will only strengthen the rights currently set forth in the state constitution. In addition to the current rights, located here, the proposed updates set to appear on the primary election June 5 ballot as “Amendment Y,” are as follows:
- The amendment narrows the definition of “victim” to mean a person against whom a crime or delinquent act is committed. If the victim is killed, incapacitated, or a minor, then “victim” may include that person’s spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or guardian.
- The amendment makes it clear that a victim must make an affirmative request to receive the benefits of several of the rights provided by Marsy’s Law. In addition, the amendment clarifies that law enforcement is allowed to share information with the public to help solve crimes.
- The amendment also provides that a person may not file a lawsuit for money damages against the State, local governments, or their officers and employees, if the person’s rights under Marsy’s Law are violated.
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