Why Do Victims Need Constitutional Rights?
Simply put, granting crime victims state constitutional rights will increase the strength of victims’ rights and make them enforceable. Constitutional rights are stronger than statutory rights. South Dakota currently has some statutory rights for crime victims, however, they weak and limited in scope. By passing Marsy’s Law (Amendment S), we can strengthen those statutory rights by placing them in the state constitution and putting them on a level more equal with the rights of criminal defendants.
The limited statutory rights crime victims in South Dakota currently have are not enforceable because victims have no remedy to force the court to protect their rights. Giving victims constitutional rights will make those rights enforceable… so if an official or a state agency violates a victim’s constitutional right, a court will have the power to order that official or agency to comply with the constitution and the victim will have legal standing to have their rights enforced.
Thirty-one states currently have provisions in their state constitutions addressing crime victims’ rights. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Montana also has language in its state constitution regarding restitution, but it doesn’t affirmatively provide any rights to crime victims. As a result, many don’t include Montana on the list of states with victims’ rights amendments.
Join our grassroots campaign to help pass Marsy’s Law (Amendment S) in South Dakota so we can give crime victims the equal rights they deserve. Vote Yes on S in November!