SD Dept. of Public Safety will not release names of crash victims
The South Dakota Department of Public Safety will limit what information it releases to the public due to the passage of Constitutional Amendment S, or Marsy's Law.
The state department released a statement Tuesday after a review of the amendment meant to improve victim's rights by state government attorneys indicated records of state reportable crashes can no longer be made available.
While the department will no longer release names of those involved in fatal or injury-related vehicle crashes, it will continue to release information about the crashes. The department also said it should not be at fault for restricting information to the public, media and other professionals.
"In no way should this action be blamed on any of the Department of Public Safety employees who have always willingly provided this information when requested," said DPS Secretary Trevor Jones. "Because of the new requirements, DPS is unable to provide these services in order to comply with the precepts of the new law."
Under the amendment, which took effect on Nov. 16, victim rights would be extended "to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim's family." But the amendment, which was passed by South Dakota voters by a 59.57-40.43 percent margin on Election Day, has had what some officials have called "unintended consequences."
In a news release issued at 12:06 a.m. Tuesday, the names of those involved in a Yankton County fatal crash were not released to the public. The crash resulted in the death of a 68-year-old man and serious non-life threatening injuries to a 47-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman, but DPS issued a statement at the bottom of the release rather than making the names of those involved public. Previously, the names involved in all fatal crashes were available to the public from DPS.
"Due to the enactment of Amendment S, known as Marsy's Law, both the release of names in fatal or injury-related crashes and use of the Office of Highway Safety's crash records website are suspended until further notice," said the department.
The amendment was sponsored in South Dakota by Jason Glodt, of Pierre-based GSG Strategies. He told The Daily Republic last week that he doesn't believe vehicle descriptions and, in some case, names should fall under the non-disclosure category mandated by the amendment. Glodt did say, however, victims' addresses should not be released.
While the Department of Public Safety said the law restricts what information it can release, Amendment S also provides several constitutional rights to crime victims. Included in Marsy's Law is a victim's right to provide a statement about the impact a crime has had, the ability to converse with prosecutors, notification of an accused person's release or escape and notification of their new rights.