This postcard from Henry T. Nicholas gives me one more reason to vote NO on Amendment Y: the backer of Marsy’s Fix just can’t tell the truth.
Help Crime Victims Get the Rights They Deserve
ISSUE Y MAKES IT HAPPEN
Issue Y is an amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to allow law enforcement agencies to share information to help solve crimes.
And,* it allows victims of crime to ‘opt-in’* to receive notification of escape or release of the criminal as well as all legal proceedings including trial, sentencing, pardon, or parole hearings.
ISSUE Y MAKES VICTIMS STRONGER.
MAKES LAW ENFORCEMENT TOUGHER [Marsy’s Law for South Dakota LLC, postcard for Amendment Y, received by DFP April 2018].
The primary deception in Nicholas’s chosen marketing lines for this fix to his ill-crafted Marsy’s Law is the characterization of the “opt-in” as “mak[ing] victims stronger.” As approved in 2016, the constitutional rights of crime victims are automatic, existing from the moment an individual is robbed, raped, or otherwise criminally violated. Crime victims don’t need Amendment Y to “Get the Rights They Deserve”; crime victims already have those rights. Amendment Y delays these rights, saying they come into effect only “upon request.”
Amendment Y doesn’t “allow” victims to opt in; it takes away rights that victims have now and requires them to ask for those rights to get them back. Taking away rights and activating them only upon request doesn’t make victims stronger; it makes them weaker.
Amendment Y takes away rights from a wide swath of currently covered “victims” and offers no opt-in to get them back. Amendment Y “fixes” Marsy’s Law by narrowing the definition to “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 thea crime or delinquent act is committed. TheIn the case of a victim who is killed or incapacitated as a result of the crime or delinquent act, or who is a minor, the term also includes any spouse, parent, child, sibling, or as designated by the court, 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 [2018 HJR 1004, as approved by SD Senate, 2018.02.28].
By striking the language about suffering harms and attempted crimes, Amendment Y reduces the scope of criminal incidents in which these rights may be invoked. By striking the language about relationships and lawful representatives, Amendment Y reduces the number of individuals who may invoke these rights.
Amendment Y further weakens victims by adding this immunity clause:
Nothing in this section or any law enacted under this section creates a cause of action for damages against the state or any political subdivision of the state, or any officer, employee, or agent of the state or of any political subdivision of the state [2018 HJR 1004].
That immunity clause takes away the threat of lawsuits that victims can use to make sure law enforcement respects their Marsy’s Law rights.
Amendment Y doesn’t strengthen victims. It takes Marsy’s Law rights away from some people completely, delays the application of those rights to those still covered, and denies those remaining rights-holders the ability to punish officials for not fully respecting those diminished rights. Amendment Y weakens victims.
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Bonus Grammar Critique! Henry T. Nicholas has billions of dollars but can’t afford a good proofreader:
- The comma after “And” is incorrect. One can start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, but there is no justification for a comma after a coordinating conjunction.
- “Opt in” should have no hyphen, since it is used here as a verb. Hyphenate only when using the phrase as a noun or adjective: “The opt-in clause weakens victim rights.”