The South Dakota Attorney General has issued an opinion that Amendment S, or Marsy's Law, does not prevent the public release of certain crime information.
Some law enforcement and public safety agencies have acted on the belief that a victims' rights are conferred automatically, at the time the incident occurs. Certain agencies responded by withholding the specific location and names of victims in crime and vehicle crash reports.
The opinion clarifies that a victim has to invoke the rights in the amendment, in the same way a defendant has to invoke the right to an attorney or to remain silent.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead is on a task force to study and respond to the new amendment. During a phone conference call Monday, Dec. 5, he said he appreciates the quick turnaround on the opinion.
"They were key issues that were slamming the door on what was normally public information, available not only to our citizens through coming down and getting reports, insurance companies, and also the media's ability to get information out on crimes in progress or crimes that had occurred in our communities," Milstead said. "Even with our systems like Crime Stoppers, there would be little value in just saying a crime happened in southern Sioux Falls."
The attorney general's committee will continue to meet. Marty Jackley says his office receives several calls a day from people needing clarification of what the amendment provides.