How has Marsy’s Law changed South Dakota?

By John Hult

The emergence of constitutional protections for victims has led to headaches for defense attorneys, as well.

Minnehaha County Public Defender Traci Smith said her attorneys have had bond hearings and plea deals delayed at prosecutor’s request, on the pretense that the victim must be notified.

Adding a layer requiring victim notification, Smith said, amounts to additional hurdle and unnecessary jail time.

“Their constitutional rights are usurping our clients’ constitutional rights,” Smith said.

It’s unclear if that’s led to longer pre-trial across the board, as the jail doesn’t tally pre-trial versus post-sentence days served.

What is clear is that the majority of inmates at the Minnehaha County Jail are awaiting trial or a judge’s disposition of a bond revocation.

Snapshots of inmate numbers from the Minnehaha County Jail from February and August in 2014-2017 show growth in total numbers, with more than two thirds awaiting a judge’s decision on their length of stay.

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