A Reflection on National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
I experienced a lot of emotions last week as we worked to promote awareness for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. I was proud to promote such a worthy cause, however, it was difficult to hear stories from so many crime victims whose lives have been forever changed by their horrible tragedies and it was upsetting to hear how our system has failed so many victims by not providing them with basic rights. Those tragic stories inspire me in our fight to strengthen rights for crime victims.
I am thankful for the events that were held around the state last week. Governor Daugaard signed a proclamation declaring it Crime Victims’ Rights Week in South Dakota. We had a kick-off picnic at Falls Park where we lit the Falls different colors each day of the week to honor different classes of crime victims. Many State’s Attorneys had events throughout the week and supporters wrote letters-to-the-editor of their local newspaper.
Crime impacts the lives of thousands of South Dakotans every year and almost everyone knows a family member or close friend who has been the victim of a crime. Unfortunately, many victims are re-victimized as they try to navigate our complicated criminal justice system. South Dakota has fallen behind the rest of the nation in granting rights to crime victims and we can do better.
Marsy’s Law will help crime victims by giving them the basic rights they deserve. As a start, Marsy’s Law will require victims be notified they have rights. There is no current law in South Dakota that requires such notification. As a result, victims are often left confused and frustrated because they don’t know what to do or where to go for help. Criminals are read their Miranda Rights and their victims should be notified they have rights as well. South Dakota has no automated notification system that to let victims know when court hearings are scheduled or when an offender’s custody status has changed. Marsy’s Law will require such a system be made available to all victims of crime. Marsy’s Law will strengthen and expand existing statutory rights by making them constitutional law so they will have teeth and be enforceable. In addition, they will give victims rights equal to the rights of their offenders.
It is time to give victims the rights they deserve in South Dakota. It is time for Marsy’s Law! Vote Yes on S in November.
Marsy’s Law for South Dakota