Victim Notification Database Expanding, Pre-Empting Need for Amendment S

Attorney General Marty Jackley trumpeted the Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification (SAVIN) System last week. The online database provides information on the custody status and upcoming hearings of “offenders”, a term I find problematic, since some of the people in the system may be defendants facing charges but not convicted of any crime. Under the fundamental rule of the American justice system, you’re not an offender unless a court finds you guilty. Until such a conviction happens, the state should publicly identify an individual in SAVIN as a defendant.

SAVIN also fails to live up to its “Statewide” name. Brookings, Clay, Hughes, Lake, Meade, and Pennington counties are using it, and Brown and Minnehaha counties are coming online in three to six months. Those eight counties make up 51% of the state’s population, but that still leaves out half of the state’s population across 58 counties.

Jason Glodt has said the existence and expansion of SAVIN is essential to the practical implementation of Amendment S, the crime victims’ bill of rights that he’s peddling for California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas. The Legislature authorized SAVIN in SDCL 23A-28C-10, from Section 76 of 2013’s Senate Bill 70, Governor Dennis Daugaard’s well-known criminal justice reform omnibus act. SAVIN’s authorizing legislation is part of Chapter 23A-28C, the Crime Victims’ Act, which provides victims with all the notification rights that Amendment S needlessly duplicates.

SAVIN exists because the Legislature is already passing laws that do what Amendment S says it wants to do. From my conservative point of view (and I do take a conservative view when writing legislation), we should write the minimal amount of laws necessary to achieve our policy goals. If Henry T. Nicholas had taken the time to study South Dakota law, he’d have seen we already do most of what Amendment S demands. The redundant Amendment S serves more to soothe Nicholas’s vanity and keep campaigner Jason Glodt busy than to take care of any problems that SAVIN and state law aren’t already addressing.