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Noem Commutations and Paroles Violating Constitution and Law on Crime Victim Rights?

South Dakota Searchlight‘s series on Governor Kristi Noem’s soft-on-crime commutations and paroles remind us that the Governor may not be following state law and constitution in protecting victims’ rights:

When Noem has acted unilaterally, victims’ relatives have lost opportunities for notification and input that are built in to the Board of Pardons and Paroles process. After Noem released Whitney Renae Turney on parole, the family of Turney’s manslaughter victim, Calvin “C.J.” Shields, expressed disappointment that they had no notice of the action or opportunity to oppose it.

“My heart sank and my stomach was in knots,” Shields’ brother, Glenn Shields, told South Dakota Searchlight. “I couldn’t comprehend the decision” [Seth Tupper, “Parolee Cited for Exhibition Driving After Noem Reduces Vehicular Homicide Sentence,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.04.07].

The costly and flawed crime victims’ bill of rights that billionaire California dope-fiend Henry T. Nicholas spent millions to write into South Dakota’s constitution in 2016 gives crime victims the right “to be informed in a timely manner of clemency and expungement procedures, to provide information to the Governor, the court, any clemency board and other authority in these procedures, and to have that information considered before a clemency or expungement decision is made, and to be notified of such decision in advance of any release of the offender….” That right and others laid out in Article 6 Section 29 are contingent upon victims’ request. But our statutory crime victims’ rights, which predated and denecessitated Nicholas’s vanity amendment, includes no such “upon request” qualification. Under SDCL 23A-28C-1, the family of Calvin Shields and victims of other crimes have a right “To provide written input at parole and clemency hearings or with respect to clemency by the Governor, should those options be considered” and “To be notified of the defendant’s release from custody….” If Governor Noem didn’t give those victims a heads-up before she decided to hand out her get-out-of-jail-free cards, Governor Noem broke the law.


  1. Mark Anderson 2023-04-09 15:55

    You know Cory, Kristi has to step it up. The governor of Texas is set to pardon a convicted murderer. This will push Abbott way ahead in the Maga game. Freeing the killer of a black man at a black lives matter event/riot is a roaring victory in that game. Open season, all the whiteys are cheering. DeSantis needs to step it up too.

  2. grudznick 2023-04-09 17:13

    These criminal fellows and shady ladies need to stay locked in the prisons. This is a bad Easter Egg Ms. Noem is basting for us all.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-04-09 18:14

    Trouble in Pierreadise? When establishment Republicans are turning on Mrs. Noem like they’ve done with their other officeholders her mandate to govern looks less incontestable every day.

  4. Mark Anderson 2023-04-09 21:02

    The shady lady is a damn fine tree grudz. It should be planted everywhere.

  5. Dicta 2023-04-09 21:07

    Soft on crime?

    Dope fiend?

    *checks website*

    Sorry, you gonna get a thin blue line sticker next? Amazing how language changes depends on your feelings.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-04-10 05:15

    Dicta, on “soft on crime”, I’m simply invoking the language our friends across the aisle in an alternative universe are using against Governor Jamie Smith for issuing such unilateral and arguably illegal pardons and commutations.

    On “dope fiend”, well, my language and feelings are pretty consistent. I’ve never been sympathetic to drug pushers.

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