- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Government entities aren’t automatically blocked from releasing information such as the exact location of a crime to the public under a new victims’ rights constitutional amendment, Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a legal opinion released Monday.

Instead, victims must opt into privacy protections offered by the amendment, Jackley wrote in the attorney general’s opinion. Confusion has swirled since voters in November approved the amendment, better known as Marsy’s Law.

It establishes rights for victims, including privacy, protection from harassment or abuse, and timely notice of trial, sentencing and post-judgment proceedings.

Jackley said in the opinion that the amendment requires victims to actively invoke their right to prevent the disclosure of information or records.

The amendment had caused law enforcement agencies, including Sioux Falls police, to stop providing details such as the addresses where crimes occurred or the names of victimized businesses.

Rapid City police have been using generalized addresses for additional types of crimes in public logs, and state officials have said they won’t release the names of people involved in car crashes that result in injury or death.

“While there is more work being done, this opinion is intended to help victims and those assisting victims in carrying out our new law,” Jackley said in a statement.

Attorney general opinions offer guidance on legal issues until the Legislature changes the law or a court rules on them.

Jackley has also convened a task force to work on interpreting Marsy’s Law and to address issues caused by its implementation.

The victims’ rights amendment is named for California college student Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. Her brother, Henry Nicholas, bankrolled the effort to expand it to more states.


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