Amendment S, California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas’s redundant vanity bill, offers this definition of “crime victim”:
As used in this section, the term, victim, means a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act or against whom the crime or delinquent act is committed. The term also includes any spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, grandchild, or guardian, and any person with a relationship to the victim that is substantially similar to a listed relationship, and includes a lawful representative of a victim who is deceased, incompetent, a minor, or physically or mentally incapacitated [Amendment S, original text, received by Secretary of State 2016.08.11].
In Victoria Wicks’s latest SDPB report on Amendment S, Nicholas’s paid campaign leader in South Dakota, Jason Glodt, contends that the above definition only includes family members who have suffered direct harm. “To be a victim, you have be harmed,” Glodt tells Wicks. “I think the language is very clear.”
I agree the language is clear. The first sentence of the above definition says a person who suffers direct or threatened harm is a victim. The second sentence says “also” that certain relatives of that direct victim are victims themselves. The second sentence does not include any condition of direct or threatened harm.
Amendment S thus warrants the privacy concerns that retired counselor Karen Miller raises in the Wicks interview:
Miller says a victim should be able to control that flow of information to relatives.
“If I were raped, I wouldn’t want my son to know necessarily. I certainly wouldn’t want him to be notified all the time this was going on. I might choose to tell him, but I don’t want the prosecutor to be telling him” [Victoria Wicks, “Counselor Says Marsy’s Law Violates Victims’ Confidentiality; Glodt Says It Increases Privacy,” SDPB Radio, 2016.10.14].
Amendment S is supposed to increase crime victims’ rights, but as Miller explains, the overly expansive definition of “victim” appears to degrade crime victims’ privacy rights.