December 14, 2016
PIERRE, S.D. – Officials of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety and several local governmental entities statewide have implemented a three-day information release policy designed to meet the requirements of a new amendment to the South Dakota Constitution.
“Marsy’s Law,” was approved by voters in the Nov. 8 election. The amendment provides certain rights for crime victims and their families. Victims have the right to ask that their information not be released to the public.
Officials of DPS, Minnehaha County, Pennington County and the city of Sioux Falls have agreed to the new information release plan which addresses that requirement.
Potential victims will be told by law enforcement that they have the right not to have their personal information released to the public. The new policy prohibits the release of the names of potential victims in any case for three calendar days so they have an opportunity to request the information not be released. If the victim does not make that specific request in that time frame, it will be released after three days.
“This policy is designed to make sure that victims have a chance to have their pertinent information withheld if they wish,” says DPS Secretary Trevor Jones. “Marsy’s Law provides that protection and we need to meet that requirement.”
Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo says the goal is to find a balance. “We want to make sure the victims have some time to make an informed decision, but we also want to get the information out to the media and other professions in a timely fashion,” he says.
Many agencies did not release such information while the new amendment was under review. In the Department of Public Safety, access to the Office of Highway Safety’s Accident Records Reporting website had been suspended. The South Dakota Highway Patrol also could not release the names of those people involved in fatal or injury-related vehicle crashes. Other county and city agencies took similar steps for their respective departments.
“We have been working to find a reasonable solution to this issue ever since the election,” says Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead. “This three-day policy is a good compromise.”
Officials say their agencies are now working to implement the plan in their respective departments.