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Notification Program Improves Victims’ Rights

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Erin Mairose
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Crime victims in South Dakota will soon have access to real time information about the status of offenders.

The program lets victims know when offenders get out of jail or break probation. 

The automated victim information system, known as SAVIN, gives crime victims better access to information about offenders. When the status of an offender changes, crime victims can chose to receive a call, text, or email.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says South Dakota is one of the last states to create a victim notification system.

“One of the things I’ve talked about is to help victims feel more at ease with the criminal justice system, but also to gain readily available information to make important decisions. That may be when a parolee is released, that may be when a probationary does something, or that may be when a protection order is served. So it gives those victims a comfort level and the ability to have real time information about what’s going on with the offender that has hurt them,” says Jackely.

Jackley says the system started as a pilot program in six counties. 

“It’s been a success. The victims like it. They like having the information readily available. They like being able to decide whether they receive a text message or they receive an email— it’s been good so far. I recognize this is a pilot situation and that as we move and continue to make more things available for victims there’s chances for human error,  but this system will do a much better job that the system we had,” says Jackely.

Other officials believe the program can improve public safety.

Eric Whitcher is the director of the Public Defenders Office in Rapid City.

He says only about five percent of cases in Pennington County involve violent felonies. The rest are non-violent or misdemeanors. But Whitcher says if a better notification system impacts public safety, he is open to seeing the program in place.